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Senior citizens from the Meeting Place in Tryon and Polk County school students were “bussed in” for the dedication. The dedication ceremony was held on October 29, 1976 on Interstate 26 (at the most scenic point). (photo submitted by Opal Sauve)

Archived Story

Anniversary of I-26 opening

Published 6:57pm Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Every year, on Oct. 29, I remember an event that changed life in Polk County forever. Remember when going “up the mountain” to Saluda or Hendersonville was not only slow and tiresome, but actually dangerous?

Back then, Hwy. 176 North was a lot different than it is now. It was a narrow, steep and winding road, and was filled with transfer trailer trucks. Some of you remember how, on your way back down the mountain, those huge trucks followed your car so closely that you were sure those hot, smelly brakes on a truck would give ‘way and you and your family would be dead! It was so dangerous that many accidents did occur on that stretch of highway from Tryon to Saluda.

Our family only made that trip up the mountain once a year, in October, when leaves were so beautiful and apples were plentiful. My father would always buy a few bushels of apples to put in our cellar, where the biggest and the best apples were kept until Christmas morning.

Years later, on Oct. 29, 1976, my son and I traveled partway up that mountain to witness the dedication of a new interstate highway, I-26.

Our car and hundreds of other vehicles were parked on the highway, and we had to walk a long way to get to the platform area. We were surprised to see so many people! An estimated 2,000 people attended this event.

North Carolina Governor Holshouser and other dignitaries from across the state of North Carolina made speeches, and Columbus Mayor Robert Ormond welcomed everyone to Polk County. Because the Polk County section of Interstate 26 was the last section of the highway to be completed, our beautiful Polk County received favorable publicity from media in both of the Carolinas.

After the ceremony was over, the new highway opened to the public and we drove to Saluda exit. I doubt anyone was happier than I was that day! Prior to that time, I had lived thousands of miles away from Polk County (for almost 20 years) and the longest part of each trip ”back home” was traveling through the North Carolina mountains, so this was a really special dedication ceremony for me. I will always remember that crisp, cool October day, and the ceremony that opened up a gateway through the mountains for all of us.

Community news:
Dr. Michael Keel from Hickory Grove Baptist Church announces their “Light Up the Night” event will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 31. This is a special family fun event that will begin at 6 p.m. and will end at 8 p.m.

The family of Mickey Jackson requests your prayers for Mickey, as he has been deployed to Kuwait for six months. He is the son of Barry and Elyse Jackson and the husband of Brandy Jackson. His children are Kalob, Macii and Raegan. Having been a military wife myself, I realize just how much prayers mean to the person on the other side of the world and the family back home. All of you will be in my thoughts and prayers.

Happy birthday to Jerry Waddell, Louise Edwards, Sheila Ford, Deborah Arledge, Benjamin Hines, Tami Frazier, Terri Gee Ford, James Pack, John Maddox, Alice Reynolds, Teresa Sauve, and Chuck, Paula and Calab Brown.

Among those celebrating wedding anniversaries this month are Jane and Jerry Horne, Billy and Debbie Price, Janice and David Blackwell, and Corrine and Arthur Scoggins. Congratulations to all of you.

If you have news of this area, please call me at 828-863-2437.

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