History of the Grade
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History of the Saluda Grade
In the year 1832 it was becoming increasingly clear that a rail line was needed to link Spartanburg S.C. to Asheville N.C. There was significant traffic, both passenger and freight, between the two cities and points farther west. The only problem was that the Saluda Mountain stood firm between the two cities. The normal solution to such an obstacle is to bypass it, tunnel through it, or go over the top.
In this case, there was no way around. A tunnel was not possible either. Since Asheville is at a higher elevation that Spartanburg, the tunnel would not be feasible. There would be no “other side” of the mountain to end the tunnel. So the only choice was to go over the top. This was a daunting challenge to the engineers in charge of the project. Remember, this was 167 years ago. Technology was not readily available to mount such a project.