a walking foam critter or a waistcoat studded with rhinestones
April 27, 2008 6:00 AM   Subscribe

The Saluda Grade is the steepest standard-gauge mainline railway grade in the United States. Built by the Southern Railway, the Saluda Grade consists of a three-mile section of track that rises over 600 feet in elevation with a grade of 4.7% between the towns of Melrose and Saluda, North Carolina. Take a virtual flyover of the terrain with Google Earth, then ride along on the adjacent Hwy 176 in an Audi A3. When you get to the top, don't miss Coon Dog Day.
posted by netbros (9 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Back before they built I-40 or the Saluda bypass, this was the only way back home to WNC. Thanks for the memories!
posted by squalor at 8:42 AM on April 27, 2008

May I just take a moment to say that morons in sports cars are one of the major reasons driving in the Appalachian mountains is a terrifying experience? I mean, cool video and all, but meeting a guy doing 70 through a cliff-side curve is not a fun thing.
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:42 AM on April 27, 2008

Especially a guy who's too much of a pussy to use his sport shifting and says you gotta watch out for the "jackasses" coming the other way.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:10 AM on April 27, 2008

For some reason, inclined rail initiated an unexpected bonding experience between myself and my own brain.

A steeply-inclined rail (non-standard gauge, non-mainline) is known as a "funicular." When I first heard this word, I found it notable. Soon thereafter, it reappeared in an episode of The Simpsons, and I decided to add it to my vocabulary. It's not a commonly used word, nor is it easy to remember.

At random times over the coming months I'd think to myself "What was that inclined rail word I was gonna remember?" I'd struggle to produce it and fail. Then finally one day I remembered it and I was happy. As time passed, the delay between remembering to remember and actually remembering gradually reduced. "Um uh... oh yeah, funicular!"

And I swear, my recall of other words improved right alongside my practice of recalling "funicular". I very seldom have that tip-of-the-tongue problem with words anymore, and I think it may be due to the regular flexing of my vocabulary muscle on "funicular."

And when I saw this post and read "the steepest standard-gauge mainline railway grade" I immediately thought to myself "Pff. It ain't no funicular."
posted by rlk at 10:25 AM on April 27, 2008

hrmm, rlk... i've often heard the word "funicular" used. but that's ok because it surely is a faboo word. it's pretty common in europe so i suppose i've been hearing tourists call the SF cable cars by that name. or maybe it's just the fault of that mario lanza song, stuck in my head now.
posted by lapolla at 3:22 PM on April 27, 2008

I'm from Hendersonville, just a few miles outside of Saluda. I've been to many a Coon Dog Day festival - they're actually pretty awesome (but you can't take the country out of the girl, so YMMV). That area is full of the most terrifying roads I've ever had to drive on in my life, especially in the snow. Man, I love WNC. I'm going to live there for a month in November so that I can hang out with my family, and this post makes me look forward to that even more.

It also reminds me that I'm very grateful that I don't have to drive on twisty, snowy highways here in Florida.
posted by mewithoutyou at 7:40 PM on April 27, 2008

rtk: A memory aid^.
posted by dhartung at 1:53 AM on April 28, 2008

A funicular is not so called because it is steep, but because it uses a cable for propulsion. A funiculus is a cord.
posted by grouse at 7:53 AM on April 28, 2008

i could kick myself - my folks moved to etowah to retire and the one time i was down there, i didn't get to go this way

i did get to go to caesar's head state park, though
posted by pyramid termite at 9:53 AM on April 29, 2008

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