Hobo Quilt dedicated to the Saluda Historic Depot

Hobo Quilt with symbols of hobo’s secret language

Press release:

Saluda volunteers quilted a Hobo Quilt in dedication to the “hobos” who lived along and traversed the nation’s railroads in trying times in America. This group presented the quilt to the board of the Saluda Historic Depot to be displayed along with other railroad artifacts and historical displays. Along with the quilt, the following declaration will be exhibited.

“From the 1880s to the 1940s, hobos were a part of American life, with up to 250,000 travelers on the road at one time. Some viewed the hobos as dirty, hard-drinking, untrustworthy bums. Most saw them as honest, honorable people caught in extraordinary times. All would agree, however, that the railroads crisscrossing this country were the lifeblood of every hobo. Hobo signs were their secret language: They gave direction and advice to the savvy traveler including where to find food, water, a place to sleep and possibly work. Based on these signs, hobos could tell how they would be received by a home owner, the police, a community or even a dog. The meanings of hobo signs reflect all sides of the transient life, from the honorable to the unsavory. These signs also tell the story of what it took to survive as a hobo. Most importantly, this subculture was a significant part of American history that is worthy of remembrance.” Taken from Debra Henninger: HOBO QUILTS 55+ Original Blocks Based on the Secret Language of Riding the Rails.

Each square has a symbol of a sign that was used by the hobos as a “secret language” to warn or alert hobos like “Cops Active,” “Anything Goes,” “Danger,” and more. Volunteers quilted these signs representing the hobo’s secret language into each square. These volunteers are: Verlie Murphy, Lynn Weidman, Geri Miller, Mar Kersten, Cam Alexander, Vikki Nelson, Irena Teal, Elaine Hewitt, Edna Miller, Edna McKee, Liz Taylor, Wendy Pecks, Lee Ellis, and Fay Chandler.

The Saluda Historic Depot will unveil the Hobo Quilt and present appreciation to these women during Saluda Train Tales on July 21, 2017 at 7pm at the Saluda Historic Depot.

The Saluda depot sits on historic Main Street at the crest of the steepest mainline standard gauge railroad in the United States, and is a contributing structure on the National Register of Historic Places in the listing for the Saluda Main Street Historic District.

A group of citizens formed a 501(c)3 non-profit and purchased the building in June 2016, and has created a railroad and heritage museum to celebrate and memorialize the town’s railroad history and its beginnings. If you would like to climb aboard and help preserve the historic Saluda Depot for future generations, you can send donations to Saluda Historic Depot, PO Box 990, Saluda, NC 28773 or email savesaludadepot@gmail.com. All donations are tax deductible. Memberships and Donations to the Saluda Historic Depot in 2017 will enable us to receive matching grant funds from the Polk County Community Foundation.

The museum is open Thursday through Sunday, noon to 4pm and includes seasonal exhibits, Saluda Grade “O Grade” Diorama and “G Grade” train dioramas of the different railroad eras in Saluda. There are also running videos of train that came up the Saluda Grade and a gift shop. The Saluda Historic Depot is located at 32 W Main Street, Saluda, NC 28773.

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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