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 to push it up the Saluda Mountain Grade, the steepest mainline standard gauge railroad in the USA. The Carolina Special ran between Charleston, SC, and Cincinnati, OH ,from 1911 until 1968.
The restored Depot houses a HO scale railroad layout that is highly detailed and is prototypical of Hendersonville, Saluda, Asheville, and WNC. One room of the layout has constantly changing day/night lighting with thunder and lightening. The Depot features historical artifacts, a practice telegraph system, a full-size caboose and a 110+-year-old, 1,000-pound 1/8-scale Southern Railway engine, a special children’s exhibit, and outdoor exhibit and more!