The Saluda Grade is the steepest standard gauge main-line railroad grade in the USA. Saluda sits at the crest of this grade and has a rich railroad heritage.
Saluda, named for a Cherokee Indian Chief whose name means Corn River, was incorporated in 1881, three years after the arrival of the first train. The town was a popular destination for lowlanders who arrived by train, escaping the heat and mosquitoes further south.
The town became the “summer home” of many artistic people seeking a quiet, undisturbed place to paint, write, or just to relax. The arts continue to flourish there today, with many nationally acclaimed artists in residence.
The train no longer carries passengers, but visitors come today by automobile and motorcycle, not only to escape the summer heat, but also to enjoy Saluda’s authentic small-town charm, its casual pace and gracious community spirit.
Visitors and residents alike enjoy a leisurely stroll along tree-lined streets of lovely Victorian homes, browsing in the many distinctive shops, art and craft galleries, and dining in restaurants along historic Main Street.
Downtown is three blocks of century old establishments on the National Register of Historic Places, including Thompson’s Store and Ward’s Grill, the oldest general store in NC, with the grill which has been owned and operated by the Ward and Thompson family since the turn of the 20th century. The M.A. Pace General Store is over 100 years old, still offering hardware and serving as a museum of times gone by.
Saluda offers many outdoor adventures including parks, walking tours, hiking, road biking, swimming, fishing, camping, zip-lining, and whitewater adventures in the Green River Gorge.
Many local B&B’s, mountain lodges, cottages, and cabins offer ideal accommodations for visitors who continue to come up the mountain for Saluda’s cooler summers and peaceful mountain surroundings.
The Blue Ridge Heritage Trail is a program of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership.