Saluda is at the top of a sudden rise of 1,000 feet from the plains below. The original name of this particular spot was "Pace's Gap" or "Pace's Ridge", presumably from the Ransom Pace family who inhabited the area. Had this name been retained, it would be exclusive in the States today. In studying the English-Cherokee vocabulary, we learn that the English word "Saluda" came from the Cherokee word "Tsaludiyi", meaning "green corn place". From legend, Tsaludiyi was a chief of the Cherokee nation, which once ranged from the NC mountain ranges to the SC flat country.
Many original Saluda families were Scotch-Irish pioneers who left Pennsylvania around the time of the “Whiskey Rebellion", which occurred in the early 1790's. John Poinsett built the first road over the Saluda Gap from the South, and in 1878 there were two houses standing in the corporate limits of present-day Saluda. A great change began with the completion of the Southern Railroad in 1878 when the first passenger train panted up the mountain and into Saluda on Independence Day of 1878. The Saluda Grade has a feature unmatched by any main line east of the Rockies- a grade that drops 600 ft. to the mile! Colonel Andrew Tanner, who supervised the convict labor that worked on the railroad and operated the first hotel "Mountain House" in Saluda, was elected the first Mayor of Saluda upon its incorporation in 1881. In 1887, the Southern considered Saluda the best paying station on the railroad. Eight passenger trains passed through Saluda daily, and over about 3,000 visitors came to Saluda that year.
Although the train no longer runs through Saluda and the daily whistles of the train's arrival at the crest of the Grade are missed immensely by locals, Saluda is still very much a railroad town. Talks of future passenger excursions up the Grade have the community abuzz with excitement of the prospect of the return of the train and visitors it brings to our wonderful town. Books and photos of the rich railroad history can be found at M.A. Pace General Store in downtown Saluda. There were no public schools in Saluda at the beginning of the century. The American Missionary Association established a young ladies seminary in 1889, and most of the buildings still stand as part of the current Saluda Elementary School complex. The hotel "Mountain Manor", which still stands behind the school as a private residence, was the girl's dormitory and the boys were housed at "Pace House" owned by Ransom Pace, which was located on Ransom Rd. before it was torn down. The "Infants and Children's Sanitarium" was founded and operated in 1914 by Dr. D. Lesesne Smith, who was also in charge of the Spartanburg Baby Hospital. From the clinics afforded by these two hospitals, the Southern Pediatric Seminar was born in 1921. Up until the death of Dr. Smith, leading pediatrists of the South volunteered their services to teach post-graduate courses in diagnoses, prevention, and treatment of disease in children. Except for one village in Italy, more ozone is released in the Saluda atmosphere than any other place in the world (US Govt. Report). Dr. Smith explained the Saluda air as air from the Pacolet Valley meeting currents from the Green River, which quickly drops unstabilizing gas over Saluda. Ozone must be taken on faith, but Saluda certainly has a clean, zestful air quality that remains uncontaminated by smokestacks and pollution.
Any way you look at it, Saluda is a great place to be - whether you live here through the winter snow or you just part-time for the mild summer season. We have managed to maintain small town charm while adapting with the changes that have occurred as time passes. So, enjoy your time here and relax for a bit in this truly Southern friendly town. And remember, as Charlie Ward always said, "If you're in a hurry in Saluda, you're in the wrong place".