History is a crucial piece of every town, city, and land. The mountains of Western North Carolina hold pieces to a past full of breakthroughs in transportation technology, cultural heritage, and the beginnings of a hospitality industry. Here at the Orchard Inn, we love to share the history of Saluda, NC, with all of our guests, and that includes our Inn and the unique town surrounding it. There are plenty of fun activities and events to explore as you learn about our past. Request access to our free Vacation Guide for local tips and recommendations!
Back to the Basics of Saluda, NC, History
Just like many towns here in the mountains, the history of Saluda began as an agricultural community. Many of the early settlers were of the Scotch-Irish descent and arrived in the 1790s. As people flocked to Western North Carolina, one thing they all had in common is the long and challenging journey they faced.
The Construction of the Saluda Grade
The invention of the railroad and the challenges surrounding transportation in the mountains resulted in the creation of the Saluda Grade. Even today, this piece of local history 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 by today’s standards, that was a recipe for disaster. While many people died building this portion of railroad tracks, new inventions were forged from the fires of progress and the need to adapt. The addition of spur tracks on spotty areas helped keep out-of-control trains from injuring people by using gravity to help slow them down. We can still see this today on many mountain roads for trucks and other cars. People flocked to Saluda as a refreshing escape from the summer heat. The area even played host to celebrities like Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald as well as Dorothy Dix.
A Natural Cure
The Western North Carolina mountain climate was also important in the history of Saluda, NC. The fresh mountain water and the clean, temperate air made the area a haven for the ill. In the early 1900s, a doctor opened a hospital from his home serving many people diagnosed with tuberculosis or other physical ailments.
The Orchard Inn is very much a part of Saluda, NC, history. Built in 1926 by the Brotherhood of Clerks for Southern Railway, our farmhouse-style lodging served as a summer retreat for residents of Georgia, South Carolina, and Louisiana to escape the heat. Although our Inn continues to grow and expand, you can still see touches of history around our beautiful grounds. Our well-appointed accommodations feature guest rooms, suites, and private cottages. Wake up to a delicious breakfast before you venture out into the enchanting Western North Carolina wilderness. After you work up an appetite exploring all of the activities and events in the area, make a reservation at our very own Newman’s Restaurant for excellent views and a tasty meal.