Saluda was originally known as Pace’s Gap, a simple crossroads for those passing through, mostly traders and herders on their way somewhere else. Then the railroad came to Western North Carolina…..
Captain Charles W. Pearson was the chief engineer and he chose to run the railroad tracks up Saluda Mountain. It was an expensive and complicated project up steep mountain land; dangerous difficult work. That thirteen miles of railroad track is still is recognized as the steepest mainline standard gauge grade in the country. Railroad service began July 4, 1879.
By the beginning of the twentieth century, Saluda was a real town with post office, stores, schools and places to sleep and eat. Eight passenger trains a day came. The town spread over seven hills ranging from 2000 to 2200 feet in elevation.
Saluda became popular with celebrities. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald were among visitors seen in Saluda. It became a vacation destination where people spent the summer in the cool and refreshing mountain air.
Saluda is now called home by many artists and craftspeople as well as those looking for a quiet vacation home or small-town lifestyle. It has not changed much. It is a charming and quaint mountain village with good access to interstate 26. Tryon and Hendersonville are both just a few miles away.
The train no longer runs though the railroad tracks remain in place and there is a community project trying to get the train running again.
Saluda has been recognized as a National Historic District.