The Surprisingly Rich History of Saluda NC

As we all know, all of the places we have visited and loved all have a history. Not only does this history include the actual land, but the people living in it at the time. One thing about our area in the Western North Carolina mountains is that we are full of history. Here at the Orchard Inn, we love to share the history of Saluda NC with all of our guests and that includes not only the town but our inn as well. Let’s take a look at some of the history of Saluda NC and how you can explore it as well on your next trip here.

Just like many towns here in the mountains, the history of Saluda NC started as an agricultural community. Here we also lived near the Cherokee Indians who named the area Tsaludiyi which meant “green corn place”. Many of the early settlers here were of the Scotch-Irish descent and came here in the 1790s. As time moved on, more and more settlers came to our area. One thing that they all had in common is that they had a hard journey to get here. Even though the roads are paved now, it’s easy to see that the climb from South Carolina into Saluda is not easy.

This brings us to our next topic in the history of Saluda NC, the Saluda Grade. Even today, the Saluda Grade is still a part of our history. It was the invention of the railroad that made Saluda thrive. Now visitors, residents, and goods can easily come to and leave Saluda through the railroad. However, the Saluda Grade railroad wasn’t always easy. It is still known as the steepest standard-gauge mainline railway grade in the United States and can drop 600 feet in less than a mile. Even in today’s standards, that can be a recipe for disaster and it was. There were many deaths associated with the Saluda Grade but also with that came inventions that we still use today. The addition of spur tracks on spotty areas helped keep trains that had lost control from injuring people by using gravity to help slow them down. We can still see this today on many mountain roads for trucks or other cars who have lost control. When the railroad worked out all of the kinks people flocked to Saluda to escape the heat in the summers. Celebrities like Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald as well as Dorothy Dix were well known here.

Another part of the history of Saluda NC that still lives on is the climate here. The water is so fresh and the air so clean and temperate that throughout the years Saluda has been a haven for the ill. In the early 1900’s Doctor Smith opened a hospital from his home. Many who had tuberculosis or other physical ailments recovered easily in our mountain air.

The Saluda of today is still similar to the Saluda of the past. People who came here to escape the heat or to start a new life still find that here today. One thing about the history of Saluda that keeps going is that we are still a haven for many. Now those who long for a simpler life, and one surrounded by the arts, love coming to the Western North Carolina mountains. This is why Saluda is a perfect getaway. When you do want to come to Saluda for an escape or to simply go on a walking history tour, we hope that you will consider staying with us at our own slice of history at Orchard Inn. Stay in a mountain retreat for the railroad workers of the Saluda Grade, and wake up each morning to a stunning view of the mountains as you enjoy breakfast from our dining room. Contact us today and begin planning your next trip to our historic and beautiful area.

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