Saluda Historic Depot included in recent report of North Carolina historic depots

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, December 5, 2018

During the fall of 2017 and the spring of 2018, a study of historic depots throughout the state was administered by the Center for Urban Affairs and Community Services at North Carolina State University.

The Saluda Historic Depot met the criteria for the study and was contacted and participated in the study. 

A 214-page final report was recently sent to the Saluda Historic Depot and included information on the strategies that communities and organizations in North Carolina use to repurpose historic depots as well as the challenges that delay revitalization and obstacles faced during the process.  More than 140 depots in various stages of repurposing and revitalization participated, and the outcomes of the historic depots are examined in this study.

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“The Historic Depot Survey Project grew out of a 2016-17 study that was conducted in conjunction with NCDOT- Rail Division.  The 2016-17 project focused primarily on train depots that are still used as Amtrak stations.  As a result of that study, we wanted to examine historic depots that have been repurposed for other uses as well as those that have not been repurposed or may be in danger of demolition,” said Donna Hughes, a researcher for NCSCU.

“The Saluda Historic Depot represents a highly successful depot that is supported locally and was repurposed as the result of grassroots efforts. The Saluda Historic Depot, like others across the state, is a tribute to the important role that rail played in North Carolina communities from the mountains to the ocean.”

“We are proud that we participated in this study and the fact that the state of North Carolina values its historic depots to the extent to do a research study, is a true testament of the importance of our Saluda Historic Depot,” said Judy Ward, chair of the Saluda Historic Depot board. “Saluda was built because of the train, so it only makes sense that it becomes the ‘iconic brand’ for the town.”

“This report affirms our belief that the Saluda Historic Depot has been worth saving,” said board member, Cathy Jackson. “As this report suggests, our depot is a ‘tie to the economic life of Saluda and is an indicator of community values, wealth, and commitments’ proven by the more than 8800 visitors who have signed our guest registry in the first 10 months of 2018. It also avows the belief in our depot of its economic and historical preservation worth, by our donors, grantors, volunteers and supporters.”   

“Planning for 2019 will begin in January and we hope to include a budget funding, which may come from a grant for traveling to other historic depots throughout the state,” said Bruce Hunt, board treasurer. “This will give us an opportunity to see how other towns with historic depots have been revitalized and experienced a ‘community cohesiveness and identity’ because of their rich railroad history like Saluda.”

The name of the report is, “Saved, Revived, or Lost Forever: The Status of North Carolina’s Historic Depots.” It is filled with graphics, charts and photos of depots in North Carolina towns that are repurposing and revitalizing their historic depots.

The report is on display at the Saluda Historic Depot for review. Those interested can also download the report at

The study and report were conducted by the Center for Urban Affairs & Community Services NC State University Raleigh.  Researchers were Donna M. Hughes, Alison R. Buck and Rodney O’Neal.

This project was funded through a United Parcel Service Endowment administered through the NC State University McKimmon Center for Extension and Continuing Education.

The Saluda depot museum is open from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, and includes seasonal exhibits, Saluda Grade “O Grade” diorama and “G Grade” train dioramas of the different railroad eras in Saluda. There are also running videos of the train that came up the Saluda Grade and a gift shop. 

The Saluda Historic Depot is located at 32 W. Main St., Saluda.

– Submitted by Cathy Jackson