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 Carolina Special ran between Charleston, South Carolina and Cincinnati, Ohio from 1911 until 1968.
Today the restored historic Depot houses the Apple Valley Model Railroad Club, the largest club layout in Western North Carolina and one of the nation's premier model railroads. The HO scale railroad extends 100 feet along the length of the Depot and has over 2,000 feet of track and more than 250 switches and turnouts. The layout is highly detailed and is prototypical of Hendersonville, Saluda, Asheville, and Western North Carolina. It uses the latest model railroading technology including radio and computer control. Additional features of the Depot include 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 in a scenic layout.
The depot is open year round, Saturday 10:00AM-2:00PM. The Depot is located on Maple Street off of 7th Avenue East, next to the railroad tracks.
Admission is free, donations appreciated. For more information or special visit arrangements call 828-890-8246. www.avmrc.com