Another Tryon uniquity is gone

Published 9:38 am Monday, August 17, 2009

I wrote long ago about the turnarounds, so I think a reprint of my earlier column is appropriate, as all of it still applies [I have updated the names of businesses]. It was called Tryon Traffic Patterns, appeared here in May 1997, and is on page 171 of my book of these columns, &dquo;A Boy in the Amen Corner.&dquo; Here &squo;tis:In the Forties, when Tryon was a bustling center of activity, the traffic patterns were a bit different from what we have today. For one thing, there were two railroad tracks parallel to Trade Street on which two or three passenger trains and several freights came by every day. Most of them stopped at the depot, too.Since for many the town ended at the railroad tracks, (you either went up Godshaw Hill or to Landrum) a turn-around was built across from the Gulf Station [now various offices]. Then people coming into town from the north could swing around and park on the store side of Trade Street instead of next to the tracks.US 176 was the only highway between Spartanburg and Asheville, so it carried a lot of traffic right through town. Can you imagine getting a break to back out of a parking space, let alone to make a U-turn via the turn around? The only traffic light in Tryon was at Oak and Trade (Ballenger&squo;s and Missildine&squo;s) where Morris stands watch today. The Post Office [Grace Foothills sign there now] was on Trade Street and it was entered every day by every citizen, it seemed. George Carson used his very fast little &squo;34 Ford roadster to meet the trains to exchange mail sacks‐he just threw them into the open rumble seat. McCown Street had not yet been cut through from Pacolet Street to South Trade, so if you wanted to go to Landrum from Pacolet you had to wait for the train to leave and cross the tracks twice. The Chestnut Street extension was then so primitive that only its residents used it‐most people did not know that it was possible to get to South Trade from Melrose Avenue that way.All traffic turned the corner at Melrose and Chestnut so there were no stop signs there. Anyone coming out of Oak Hall Hotel or what is now south Chestnut Street knew they had to stop. There was a stop sign on Pacolet where Chestnut joined it coming down from Oak Hall and Melrose. In those days, the right of way was adjusted to suit traffic‐not determined by road geometry as the DOT guys from far away now plant those big red stop signs.Then in 1948 the American Legion built a nice temple for the Post Office on Pacolet Street (Andy Haynes&squo; law office and Ton-A-Wandah are there now.&bsp;The former turnaround across from present Post Office. Note No U Turn sign. (photo by Garland Goodwin)but the Legion still uses the basement.) Then that portion of Pacolet was visited by everybody every day, so the stop sign was moved to Chestnut, and a turn-around was built where the &dquo;No U Turn&dquo; is now (that&squo;s why those last two parking places are long enough for a four-door pick-up truck.)A stop sign was planted in the middle of Pacolet to hold off the Gillette Woods people charging down around the blind curve and up in front of First Baptist Church from interfering with the folks turning around to go back to Trade Street. In my not humble opinion, that turn-around and stop sign should still be there‐I often see people pull into the one-way street between the post office and the church, and back out into Pacolet to go back to Trade, and nearly get clobbered by cars topping that hill in front of the church at highway speed because they now have the right of way.It probably looks good from Raleigh the way it is, but those folks probably never lived in a nice little place like Tryon. They don&squo;t understand turnarounds, stop signs in the middle of straight streets, Wilderness Road beyond the pavement, River Road in the horse country or Rippy Hill Road. This from a guy who couldn&squo;t wait to get away from here to play with airplanes, but after a few years couldn&squo;t wait to get back? &bsp;

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