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Saluda in Polk County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Saluda Grade

 
 
Saluda Grade Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Stanley and Terrie Howard, September 7, 2008
1. Saluda Grade Marker
Inscription.  The steepest, standard gauge,mainline railway grade in the U.S. Opened in 1878; three mi. long. Crests here.
 
Erected 1987 by Division of Archives and History. (Marker Number O-73.)
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Natural FeaturesRailroads & Streetcars. In addition, it is included in the North Carolina Division of Archives and History series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1878.
 
Location. 35° 14.171′ N, 82° 20.933′ W. Marker is in Saluda, North Carolina, in Polk County. Marker is on W Main Street (U.S. 176), on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Saluda NC 28773, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Forever on Duty (a few steps from this marker); (Former) Saluda Depot (within shouting distance of this marker); In Honor of Nolan D. Pace, Sr. (within shouting distance of this marker); Commercial Building (within shouting distance of this marker); E.B. 'Baty" Hall (within shouting distance
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of this marker); a different marker also named Commercial Building (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Commercial Building (within shouting distance of this marker); Veterans Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Saluda.
 
Regarding Saluda Grade. Saluda Grade is the steepest standard-gauge mainline railway grade in the United States. Owned by the Norfolk Southern Railway as part of their W Line, the Saluda Grade in Polk County, North Carolina consists of a three-mile section of track that rises over 600 feet (180 m) in elevation with a highest official grade of 4.7% but reaching 5.1% at one point between the towns of Melrose and Saluda.
 
Saluda Grade image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Stanley and Terrie Howard, September 7, 2008
2. Saluda Grade
Looking back down the tracks.
On The Tracks image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Stanley and Terrie Howard, September 7, 2008
3. On The Tracks
The line begins its climb at the bottom of Melrose Mountain, where the town of Tryon can be found today at 1,081 feet (329 m), and continue on the southern side of the Pacolet valley. At Melrose, what is known as the Saluda Grade begins and climbs to the town of Saluda, cresting from the steepest grade of 5.1% right in the center of town at an elevation of 2,097 feet (639 m).
Up the tracks and around the bend the grade gets very steep image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Stanley and Terrie Howard, September 7, 2008
4. Up the tracks and around the bend the grade gets very steep
Because of numerous accidents involving downgrade runaway trains in the late 1880s, the then Southern Railway (the line's original owner) built special safety tracks along the route. This is a manned spur junction, which, for safety reasons, is always switched to a 60-foot (18 m) pile of solid earth, which is capable of stopping downgrade runaway trains. Only upon the application of a special whistle signal from the downgrade train will the signalman manning the spur junction throw the switch to lead the train safely to the main line. Special elaborate rules were made by Southern, and later Norfolk Southern, in dealing with operations on this route.
Saluda image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Stanley and Terrie Howard, July 17, 2011
5. Saluda
Saluda image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Stanley and Terrie Howard, September 7, 2008
6. Saluda
Old Saluda Depot image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Stanley and Terrie Howard, July 17, 2011
7. Old Saluda Depot
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 1, 2021. It was originally submitted on September 7, 2008, by Stanley and Terrie Howard of Greer, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 2,771 times since then and 23 times this year. It was the Marker of the Week March 6, 2011. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on September 7, 2008, by Stanley and Terrie Howard of Greer, South Carolina.   5. submitted on July 17, 2011, by Stanley and Terrie Howard of Greer, South Carolina.   6. submitted on September 7, 2008, by Stanley and Terrie Howard of Greer, South Carolina.   7. submitted on July 17, 2011, by Stanley and Terrie Howard of Greer, South Carolina. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.

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Mar. 5, 2024