The first steam engine puffed up the Saluda Grade to the Hendersonville Depot in 1879. The steam engine needed a “help engine” attached to the rear of the train at Melrose for additional power to push the train up the Saluda Mountain Grade, the steepest main-line standard gauge railroad in the United States. The Depot houses the Apple Valley Model Railroad Club, the largest club layout in Western North Carolina. The HO scale railroad extends 100 feet along the length of the Depot and has over 2,000 feet of track and more than 225 switches and turnouts. The layout is highly detailed and is prototypical of Hendersonville, Saluda, Asheville, and Western North Carolina. The Depot includes many historical artifacts, a Southern Railway caboose that visitors can tour and a special children’s exhibit where they can operate a Thomas the Tank train.