Tryon is the largest town in the area, if you consider a population of 1,750 large. This town, laid out in the shape of a circle, was incorporated in the late 1800s as the Spartanburg and Asheville Railroad came to the area.
Many of the historic buildings on Trade Street, as we know it today, were in place by 1900, including a general store, a pharmacy and a post office. Tryon quickly grew as a resort town, bringing tourists to the area to enjoy the mountain views and good climate. Many artists, writers and crafters chose to stay – at least for a while – including the stage actor William Gillette, most famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. This mix of locals, artists and retirees continues today, creating a vibrant, active community.
The local equestrian community began with the help of Carter Brown, who organized the Tryon Riding and Hunt Club and the first Blockhouse Steeplechase in the 1940s. Our local event calendar today is filled with equestrian events – including the spring running of the Steeplechase, and nearly year-round horse shows at the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Tryon was well known for its table and wine grapes. Due to prohibition, these family businesses dried up over time. Beginning in the early 1990s, this interesting part of Tryon's history was revived: the planting of grapes for winemaking. About a dozen vineyards now lie about 10 miles to the east in the Tryon foothills. This area, with its gentle, rolling hills and clay-loam soils, has proved to be an excellent spot for vinifera grapes. Two wineries welcome visitors, and more are in the planning stages.
Stroll down Trade Street and enjoy the shops and restaurants. Catch a movie at the tiny Tryon Theater or a performance at the Tryon Fine Arts Center. Take a drive through the architecturally rich neighborhoods of Gillette Woods and Godshaw Hill; through the horse estates on Hunting Country Road; or along the Pacolet River Scenic Byway (Hwy 176). Have a picnic at Harmon Field and peruse the nearby antique stores. There’s a lot to fill your days in Tryon!