Saluda Dream – A Summer To Remember

Posted by on Jul 24, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 4 comments

Saluda Dream – A Summer To Remember

Have you ever wished you could go back to the past? I have often thought I would love to spend one day on a Wagon Train. Just one. I’m pretty sure the novelty would wear off quickly.

Today I believe I might enjoy a return to Saluda, NC in the first part of the last century and I think I could last much longer than one day. Here’s why.

Saluda, North Carolina, a small town at the top of the mountain sits just off of I26 as you come up from South Carolina to Hendersonville and Asheville. The interchange consumes what used to be my husband’s grandpa’s corn field. The family refers to the building of the road as, “When the road took the farm. . .” Because, well, it did. Take the farm, that is.

downtown SaludaIf you drive down into Saluda you see a sleepy little town, a tourist destination of sorts with a railroad track running right down Main Street. There are no trains now, mores the pity. (Reason # 1 I want to go back to the former Saluda.)

Anyway, you would never guess if you just drove through, the rich history hidden in this tiny town. I’m talking a colorful and varied history.

There is the history of the Cherokee Indians who lived in these parts first. Then you have the first settlers who came through on the Indian Trails in the 1700’s and stayed to make a living off the land. There is Revolutionary War history and Civil War history.

All of that was before Saluda even got its name.

What really made the town come alive was the railroad. In 1878 the track was built up the Saluda Grade and the town’s name was changed from Pace’s Gap to Saluda. When the trains arrived, the people from Florida and South Carolina flocked to this mountain town for the summers. Hotels and boarding houses popped up everywhere. At one time there were over thirty of them. The first third off the 20th century Saluda was a happening place.

Besides the tourist industry, there was the baby hospital started by Dr. Lesesne Smith. The homes on his property housed a hospital for the sick babies who were brought to the mountains. A group of benefactors in Spartanburg decided they needed a hospital for those who couldn’t pay too, so the Spartanburg Babies Hospital was born. It sat across Greenville Street from Dr. Smith’s hospital and he saw the babies there too! The doctor also ran a Seminar every summer for pediatricians from all over the country.

As incredible as this seems it all happened in Saluda.

So, I have been researching all of this for the book I am writing. It is the first in a new series of children’s mysteries set in the South. But, I’m having a problem. The research is so much fun. Driving around town finding all of the old hotels and boarding houses is a bit addictive. Dreaming about how it must have been in the late twenties and early thirties makes me wish I was there.

Ginny at Nursing Home

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon poking around town with my sister-in-law. We even went and walked around the nursing home since some of my story takes place there. The nursing home sits on the site where the Pace home sat. It was a way station for travelers well before the railroad came through.

 

 

I went to the local library and checked out some books on the history of Saluda. Some of these books were written by children who interviewed their elders and then wrote the stories down. Their teacher helped them put them into these books which are so valuable. Last night I spent time reading those, as well as a memoir of a man who knew my husband’s family. This is history. My history.research books

 

Oh, to get off the train at the Saluda Depot, catch a ride in a wagon to one of the big guest houses, and spend my summer sitting on the porch, walking downtown, visiting with friends, and writing the stories of Saluda. That would be a summer to remember.

4 Comments

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    • admin

      Thanks, Deanna. I might just have to become a professional researcher. . . is there such a thing?

  1. Cindy hafat

    Miriam, i often believe i am living in the wrong century. I love history abd really enjoyed your Salusa story.

    • admin

      Thanks, Cindy! Mostly I’m thankful for modern conveniences, but I love seeing the old buildings especially since they help me imagine it better. That is why I’m rather vocal about saving as many of them as we can!