Saluda Grade to reopen?

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Saluda Grade to reopen?
Posted by Ulrich on Friday, February 13, 2009 1:28 PM

I've read this somewhere but haven't been able to verify it.. anyone know if there's any truth to it?

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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, February 13, 2009 3:00 PM

I doubt it... Last I heard the track was still in place, but out of use. The 5% grade is still staggeringly steep.

I'm guessing the rumer you heard was false...

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Posted by wallyworld on Friday, February 13, 2009 3:37 PM

" A conversation with NC DOT today revealed that at this time no movement has been made by N&S to reinstitute traffic on the "Saluda Grade". N&S did advise NC DOT however that forthcoming NC coal (power station) contracts would play a significant part in whether or not the portion of the line between Landrum and Flat Rock would be re-opened. N&S did advise local officials of communities between Hendersonville and and Brevard of pending abandonment for the line that runs between the two towns. My NC DOT advisor noted that N&S official DID NOT suggest that the "Saluda Grade" would be abandoned in case of  future lack of use."

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Posted by Modelcar on Friday, February 13, 2009 3:40 PM

That route is not abandoned as far as I know....Have not heard that it has been.....But it has been out or service for more than 7 years if I remember correctly...There was a big wash out occurred downgrade, I believe east from Saluda some years ago and I wonder if that was ever restored.....Some of the track was suspended across the washout.

Believe the correct description applied to the line is:  Embargoed.

Have photos of the washout.

Edit:  Tried and tried to witness operation on the "hill" there and never did succeed.  At least I did get a good look at the structure of grade / track.  A beautiful little town, especially in the early spring time with all the blossoms.  Got good hot dogs in one of the restaurants too and enjoyed talking to Mr. Pace in the old General Store.....

 

 

 

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Posted by wallyworld on Friday, February 13, 2009 3:57 PM


Could you post them?

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Posted by Modelcar on Friday, February 13, 2009 4:04 PM

Thanks W W for the photo....I can't tell if that is the same location I speak of.  The one I have photos from shows a massive slide of the fill several hundred feet down the hillside and some one with a bit much to drink had actually driven down that R of W and got stuck when some of the ties were missing and the {Ford pickup}, was stranded almost in mid air sitting on it's frame and on the rails.  Lucky for the dirver the truck didn't cascade down over the side of the tracks and roll a couple hundred feet down the hillside washout.....Might not have been very good for his health.  That was back about 2006 I believe.

 

Quentin

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Friday, February 13, 2009 4:06 PM

wallyworld - Might your quote above be from one of the posts to the "Carolina Heritage Line - Current News" ("CHL") webpage at the now apparently defunct saludagradeinfo web site ?  I found the same as "cached" by Google under the heading of -

July 18 , 2005  Reported by T. Grogan

at: http://74.125.95.132/search?q=cache:82Y374AqZhIJ:www.saludagrade.info/CHLnews.html+Saluda+grade+reopen&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us

- Paul North.

"This Fascinating Railroad Business" (title of 1943 book by Robert Selph Henry of the AAR)
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Posted by Modelcar on Friday, February 13, 2009 4:08 PM

wallyworld
Could you post them?

 

I don't have the "know how" to post photos on here but I certainly would send them to you via email but I took them off the computer here and they are copyrighted, so I can't violate that.   Sorry.  They really are good ones too.

Quentin

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Posted by wallyworld on Friday, February 13, 2009 4:57 PM

Paul_D_North_Jr

wallyworld - Might your quote above be from one of the posts to the "Carolina Heritage Line - Current News" ("CHL") webpage at the now apparently defunct saludagradeinfo web site ?  I found the same as "cached" by Google under the heading of -

July 18 , 2005  Reported by T. Grogan

at: http://74.125.95.132/search?q=cache:82Y374AqZhIJ:www.saludagrade.info/CHLnews.html+Saluda+grade+reopen&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us

- Paul North.

Yes...My home is very close to Charlotte and this thread motivated me and prompted my curiousity as I have passed through Saluda many times but never bothered to make a stopover since the line was dormant. I found the article and posted the gist of it while at the same time, you probably noticed there is political scuttlebutt about making it a "heritage operation" which is a rather frightening prospect...which I dont believe this will happen, at least in my lifetime. I have been up in Illinois "temporarily" for a couple of years and comparatively, there is not a whole lot for a rail fan in NC..unless you like contemporary railroading which personally bores me to death..although the transportation museum in Spencer is great ..its no IRM. 

 

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Posted by Deggesty on Friday, February 13, 2009 5:46 PM

SPV atlas indicates that the line is abandoned, but I have found an error here and there in one atlas or another. We do know that NS is not currently operating any trains up or down the grade.

I had the pleasure of a round trip between Asheville and Hayne (the conductor recommended that I not go into Spartanburg lest I miss the westbound train) in the summer of '64. Going down, the conductor, flagman, and I sat in a roomette and had a good conversation. Going back up, we had an extremely slow trip because the weedkiller train had just come down, and the rails were slick with the weedkilling oil--and the sanders were not working well. I also went down in the spring of '67, riding the Carolina Special from Knoxville to Columbia.

Johnny

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Posted by Modelcar on Friday, February 13, 2009 6:34 PM

W W:  Got to thinking and if you are interested in pulling up the photos I mentioned of the washout and the Ford pickup sitting high and dry on the tracks above the washout.....You might try the Search function on the forum.  Go to 2006 and search thru for photos of such an event.....chances are they still might be there.  There are over a dozen of them.....

Edit:   Checked 40 pages and did not find them....

Quentin

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Posted by anb740 on Friday, February 13, 2009 10:05 PM

Traffic was suspended between Landrum and Flat Rock in December of 2001, and the line itself was railbanked for possible future use. NS cut the rails at Landrum in 2003 per FRA guidelines so that they wouldn't be responsible for maintaining the line in working order.

 http://anb740.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=385482

All of the crossing gates have been removed, and crossing signals themselves haved been "bagged."

http://anb740.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=385483

A few of the track signals have had their signal heads removed, and will need to be replaced if the line goes back into operation; one guy in Landrum even had an entire signal mast from the line stuck up in his front yard! (Since the runaway track used time-out circuitry/signals to throw the switch at the bottom of the grade back for the main, eliminating the signaling on this line is out of the question if it's used again.) The code line power has of course been turned off to all of the signals. The washout in question occurred at MP36 a mile south of Melrose. Since NS has no obligation to fix the washout, it's still there as far as I know.

 

Joe H. (Milepost S256.0; NS Griffin District)

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Posted by RudyRockvilleMD on Friday, February 13, 2009 10:11 PM

I seriously doubt if NS will reopen the Saluda Grade if they can send traffic another way. I lucked into a photo of W 77 going  up grade through Saluda in 1995. I went into the general store which is in the former train station, which might have been relocated from its old site, and I asked if any trains had come through that day. A man who worked in the store told me he hadn,t seen any trains since he  came in to the store at 9 AM that morning. Just then my scanner came to life so I rushed over to the bridge over the track where I photogrphed W 77 climbing the grade.

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Posted by anb740 on Friday, February 13, 2009 10:48 PM

wallyworld

N&S did advise local officials of communities between Hendersonville and and Brevard of pending abandonment for the line that runs between the two towns.

That was the branch line that split off from the Saluda Grade main at Hendersonville. The track was already in bad shape, and if my memory serves correctly, the only customer left was a paper mill at Brevard. (the remainder of the branch to Rosman was abandoned years ago)

Joe H. (Milepost S256.0; NS Griffin District)

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Posted by Boyd on Friday, February 13, 2009 11:03 PM

Anyone have a map of where this is? Maybe I can good earth the area? 

Modeling the "Fargo Area Rapid Transit" in O scale 3 rail.

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Posted by Boyd on Friday, February 13, 2009 11:04 PM

 Where is this? Has anyone done a google earth search of this area?

Modeling the "Fargo Area Rapid Transit" in O scale 3 rail.

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Posted by MJChittick on Saturday, February 14, 2009 12:02 AM

Saluda is just southeast of Hendersonville, NC.

Mike

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Saturday, February 14, 2009 5:10 AM

I don't want to stoke the fires of ignorance and speculation here, but nevertheless I will observe that the following have occurred since Saluda was taken out of service: 

- NS has gotten more comfortable with AC traction motors, for really slow speed drag operation;

- DPUs are now pretty well understood and accepted, and even NS seems to be joining the western roads with operating them;

- ECP brakes are now in road trials, and NS is participating in them;

- Traffic volumes and capacity constraints hit previously unimagined levels, along with revenues and profits, anad capital expenditures back into the business;

- NS has adopted system-wide operations planning and train scheduling.

All of which is to say that the objective conditions affecting operations over Saluda have changed quite a bit for the better since then.  If the NS system becomes clogged with trains and reopening the route over Saluda is one way to relieve that - say, by running unit coal train loads down the grade or empties upgrade, or even the higher HP/ton intermodals up that grade - I wouldn't rule it out.  Just an observation (no inside information).

- Paul North.

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Posted by Modelcar on Saturday, February 14, 2009 10:30 AM

RudyRockvilleMD
I went into the general store which is in the former train station, which might have been relocated from its old site,

The "former train station" mentioned was moved....from a location beyond the highway bridge and down grade {away from town}, about a quarter mile and I believe located on the right side of the R of W...{looking from the bridge}.  Down where there was {perhaps still is}, a short side track on the other side of the track.

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Posted by Modelcar on Saturday, February 14, 2009 10:34 AM

Boyd

 Where is this? Has anyone done a google earth search of this area?

Just enter "Saluda, N C" into any good satellite program....The track {summit}, is right in the town of Saluda.

Quentin

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Posted by Modelcar on Saturday, February 14, 2009 10:50 AM

Saluda was an extremely interesting RR location for me.  As I mentioned before, we tried to visit and wait for train activity as we were passing near by on the interstate back and forth to Florida...but never did see any train movements there thru town. 

Standing there, and trying to realize how much effort must be applied to bring any amount of weight up that grade is difficult to understand how it is even possilble.

An observation:  By now, I wonder how much of the R of W the plant Kudzu has obliterated....?

Quentin

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Saturday, February 14, 2009 11:48 AM

WW: the closure of the Hendersonville - Brevard branch brings up a question. I often saw ballast being brought out of that branch from a rock mine. Is NS not buying that rock and if so has the high quality ballast played out????

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Posted by Deggesty on Saturday, February 14, 2009 12:05 PM

For the information of all who have never heard of kudzu, it is a vine native to Japan that was imported to the South many years ago with the thought that it would stop erosion and would be good as cow feed. It does a wonderful job of covering eroded areas so you do not see the erosion effect. It can cover other areas, climbing poles and guy wires, and becoming a general nuisance. When I lived in the South, a common saying was, "The Baptists and kudzu are taking over."

Quentin, are you from the South, too?

Johnny

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, February 14, 2009 12:14 PM

 Well, the traffic was going up.  But NS, like every other RR, has been hit hard as of late.  Lots of furloughs, trains combined, yards down to one shift, etc.  so I doubt we'll be seeing any push for rebuilding Saluda (unless a real profitable company opens up there)

From what I was told, Saluda came with EIGHT pages of special operational restrictions in the timetable.  Special qulifications, RFEs, retainers, handbrakes, the whole nine yards.  Could ECP eliminate some of those restrictions? 

While the guys that ran on it were quite capable, it seems, the railroad as a whole considered the trackage a pain in the rear.   And if there's a comparable, easier and safer route...


 

Paul_D_North_Jr

I don't want to stoke the fires of ignorance and speculation here, but nevertheless I will observe that the following have occurred since Saluda was taken out of service: 

- NS has gotten more comfortable with AC traction motors, for really slow speed drag operation;

- DPUs are now pretty well understood and accepted, and even NS seems to be joining the western roads with operating them;

- ECP brakes are now in road trials, and NS is participating in them;

- Traffic volumes and capacity constraints hit previously unimagined levels, along with revenues and profits, anad capital expenditures back into the business;

- NS has adopted system-wide operations planning and train scheduling.

All of which is to say that the objective conditions affecting operations over Saluda have changed quite a bit for the better since then.  If the NS system becomes clogged with trains and reopening the route over Saluda is one way to relieve that - say, by running unit coal train loads down the grade or empties upgrade, or even the higher HP/ton intermodals up that grade - I wouldn't rule it out.  Just an observation (no inside information).

- Paul North.

 The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

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Posted by Modelcar on Saturday, February 14, 2009 2:52 PM

Saluda was {is}, an extreme piece of RR.....One of the features that prevailed many years ago were the two runaway tracks....That in itself, shows it's potential that it contained two of them.

Engineers in steam days didn't have the advantage of dynamic brakes either.

Quentin

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Posted by Modelcar on Saturday, February 14, 2009 3:03 PM

Deggesty

Quentin, are you from the South, too?

Johnny....No, originally from Pennsylvania and then a move to Indiana 47 years ago.....Our visiting Saluda several times came from our times of spending Winters in Florida for 8 years.  So as we'd pass close by on I-26 in that traveling would produce a stop in Saluda.  We waited back in Saluda as much as 4 hrs. for activity, but to no avail.  But enjoyed our visits back in there....a quaint old place.  And of course just to see the physical layout of the RR was a high point for me.

Quentin

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Posted by dubch87 on Saturday, April 04, 2009 2:41 PM

I used to post on here many years ago as BlueRidgeFront (I think that was my screenname).  It has been so long that my account has been removed and I had to create a new account.  I was the one that had posted those pictures of the washout (which can be found here).  Here is a Google Maps link to that location, but the resolution isn't very good.  I believe that image was acquired in 2006.

I was on YouTube watching some Saluda action when I saw a comment that read "According to Ken Daniels, Spokesperson for NS Railway, The Saluda Grade will re-open in Late June of 2009. Repairs are being done and more effective track stabilizers are to put into place by the end of May. Rail servie will run once a day and return through Hendersonville."  Reading that brought me back to the Trains forum to find this thread.

I am not currently at home in Tryon, but will be over Easter.  I will try and do some scouting if I have time to see if any work is being done. 

I have my doubts, but it's not impossible that it'll reopen.  From what I have heard, the loops over at Old Fort are quite congested.

 As a sidenote, if anyone is going to be in the Melrose area at the base of the grade, the DOT is replacing a bridge on Pearson Falls Road over the North Pacolet River, so you'll have to take Pearson Falls Road from Saluda to get to Melrose instead of from 176 at Melrose (which means you'll get to follow the ROW anyway).

   

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Posted by CG9602 on Saturday, April 04, 2009 3:13 PM
What was the last regularly scheduled passenger service to operate over Saluda grade ?
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Posted by dubch87 on Saturday, April 04, 2009 3:49 PM

CG9602
What was the last regularly scheduled passenger service to operate over Saluda grade ?

 

 The Carolina Special in November or December 1968.

   

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Posted by Modelcar on Saturday, April 04, 2009 3:55 PM

Dubch87.....Oh yes, I remember you very well.....Those were excellent photos of the washout and I probably still have them somewhere on here.  And the ones of the pick up truck tool.....!

Welcome back.  When I saw this Saluda post up again it caught my attention as I've had keen interest in this piece of RR.  That would be great if it would become active again.  I'd guess if that becomes a fact, they will have plenty of work to put the track back in shape to use again.  Believe it's been about 6 years since it was taken out of service.

Wonder how much of the ROW the Kudzu has taken over.....That stuff must be something else.

So, former BRF, welcome back....You always had good info.

 

Quentin

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