A travel feature story for Charlotte magazine’s November 2016 issue.
SALUDA IS NOT in the foothills of the Appalachians, and its locals are quick to correct me on that. If you’re driving north from South Carolina, the town sits atop the first peak in the Blue Ridge range and is home to the steepest railroad grade in the country—or would be, if the trains were still running.
In 2001, freight trains stopped passing through Saluda. Now, the town leans on its musical traditions to build itself up as a hub for live music and local art. You might say Saluda traded in the sounds of whistling trains for strumming chords, and the people here want you to listen.