Historic train signal light in Saluda faces uncertain future after collision

Published 12:56 pm Friday, January 26, 2024

Commercial truck damages decades-old landmark

 

SALUDA—A historic railroad signal light in Saluda was hit and severely damaged last week. 

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According to Saluda police, a Swift Transportation truck hit the light at 8:06 p.m. on the night of Wednesday, January 17, snapping it at the base and ripping it clear of its foundation. Saluda police reported that they were not contacted about the light, which is located at the intersection of Greenville St. and Main St., on the side facing downtown Saluda, until 9:45 p.m. that night.

“It didn’t just bend it over or anything, it broke it at the base,” said Saluda Councilman Paul Marion. “It’s not in the way of traffic or anything like that. It’s just laid across the railroad.”  

The railroad signal lights have been at the site for at least over 20 years, and are a staple of downtown Saluda. Whether or not the light will be replaced is yet to be determined. 

Saluda Police Chief Clay Price said that Swift is filing a claim for Norfolk Southern regarding the possibility of the light’s replacement. 

“I spoke to Norfolk on the 18th and I spoke to them on January 25, after I spoke to Council Member Marion, and they’re supposed to be sending someone out as soon as possible,” he said.  

“Both of those signals would be removed when the Rails to Trails comes through, so maybe with this thing snapping off, the railroad will go ahead and remove both of them,” Marion said. “It is a symbol of the railroad, and that’s awesome, but it’s not had any functionality in years and years, and it’s just had the opportunity to degrade.”

The signal light is such a popular landmark that some Saluda locals even contacted the police chief to ask if they could have the downed light. Price informed those interested that that would be out of the question, as the light is still the property of Norfolk Southern. 

“We’ve been advising them that there is still electrical wiring hooked to the crossing signal, and we are unaware if it is live. So for the time being, that’s kind of dangerous right now,” Price added. 

“One of the things that I let [Norfolk Southern] know is that we are a small railroad town, and I understand that the tracks have not been active in several years, but you know, I would love to see it put back,” said Chief Price. “But that’ll depend on what they decide to do.”