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Saluda Train Tales kicks off year with talk March 16

Saluda Train Tales will start this year’s storytelling with Harold Williams, 90, of Columbus, who will be at the Saluda Historic Depot on Friday at 7 p.m.

Williams’ parents lived in Rockcliff, North Carolina, around 1913, and he will tell stories about the time his family lived in this railroad community nestled in a valley below a rock cliff between Highway 176 and Melrose, North Carolina. He will share stories from his parents who used the “local” (helper engine) to ride up and down the grade to Saluda to buy groceries. 

Williams was born near Skyuka on White Oak Mountain, and grew up and worked in the Columbus and Saluda areas all his life. After his family lost the farm in Mill Spring during the depression, they moved to the top of Skyuka Road, and lived in and cared for a motel on top of White Oak Mountain.

Williams and his brothers and sisters walked to Stearns School in Columbus every day. It took 20 minutes to get down the mountain, and about an hour and half to get back up.

He started his work life at the age of 11 carrying a 5-gallon galvanized water bucket to the peach pickers, making 25 cents an hour. When he was 13, he graduated to picking peaches for 35 cents an hour. After this backbreaking work, at the age of 17, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps and served in World War II as it was ending. 

He finished his work career at Dupont after 31 years.

Williams’ talk will be at the Saluda Historic Depot,32 W Main St.. Doors open at 6:30, with the presentation is 7:00pm to 8:30pm.

This and other Saluda Train Tales are free, though voluntary donations are appreciated.

For more information, please contact Judy Ward at 828-674-5958 or judyward@charter.net; or Cathy Jackson at 828-817-2876 or cathy@saludalifestyles.com for schedule updates.

– Submitted by Cathy Jackson