Mayors predict big impact from planned Saluda Grade Trail

Published 12:39 pm Thursday, April 27, 2023

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FOOTHILLS–The mayors of Landrum, Tryon and Saluda predict an economic boon from the planned Saluda Grade Trail, which will pass through all three towns. The  31-mile, multi-use recreational trail will go from Inman, South Carolina to Zirconia, North Carolina. 

“I think the future Saluda Grade Rail Trail will have the same kind of impact on our area as the railroad had back when it was first built,” says Landrum mayor Bob Briggs. “The railroad brought business and visitors to the area and we all benefited from it.” 

Norfolk Southern ceased rail service along the route in December 2001 for economic reasons. In March, the non-profit organizations Conserving Carolina, PAL (Play, Advocate, Live Well) and Upstate Forever signed an agreement with Norfolk Southern to purchase the rail corridor. They’re working to fund the purchase and construction with state appropriations, grants and private donations. 

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“I foresee this setting up a need for one or more of our businesses to handle special shoes, clothing, storage equipment, bike equipment, all-weather gear and a plethora of other amenities needed by the participants,” says Tryon mayor Alan Peoples referring to the walkers, runners and cyclists who will use the trail. “I feel that most people who come from out of town will have available disposable income and be willing to spend it.”

In addition to increased economic activity, the mayors say the trail will improve the quality of life by providing another avenue for outdoor recreation for residents and visitors. 

“They’ll be on it exercising and get their kids out there and ride their bikes,” says Saluda mayor Tangie Morgan. “I think it’ll be a good thing and I think you’re going to have people from a 30-mile radius come into town and use it.”

To learn more about the trail go to