BELMONT, N.C. — Trolley cars are making a comeback in Gaston County.


What You Need To Know

A nonprofit organization is bringing back trolleys to Belmont

Belmont Trolley is restoring three trolleys to preserve history and to boost tourism

The trolleys are expected to run in late 2023


More than a century ago, this form of transportation served textile mills in Belmont. 

The nonprofit organization Belmont Trolley plans to bring back the service with another purpose. 

“Our first goal is just preserving the cars and preserving the history of them,” Belmont Trolley Vice President Nathan Wells said. “People can come and ride them and get a feel like it was like to ride these cars 100 years ago.” 

The electrical engineer, who is part of the all-volunteer board of directors, said the organization wants to honor the past while boosting tourism in the area. 

The trolley service will be a weekend attraction running in its original tracks. Its route will eventually be from downtown Belmont to Belmont Abbey College. 

Two of the trolley cars operated in Europe and one of them in Charlotte. 

"This one ran in Uptown Charlotte, up until 1938,” Wells said. 

Wells and his son both have helped restore the trolley cars. 

“It’s cool to have history written in a book but to actually see it in person, to me it’s kind of a passion,” Wells said. 

The trolley cars will also receive a 21st century upgrade. They won’t use a diesel generator as the power system to provide electricity. Instead, students from The William States Lee College of Engineering at UNC Charlotte are designing a battery-powered system to provide electricity to the cars.

“The most surprising part about it is taking something that's 115 years old and letting it collide with something that's going to be just a month old. I mean, brand new technology interacting with what's essentially an art piece from the early 1900s,” UNC Charlotte student Carson Lafferty said. “You know, something that everybody's great-grandparents would have ridden in and absolutely loved, is making a comeback.”

Wells is happy to be a step closer to making this project a reality. 

“Kind of a sense of relief, satisfaction [and] accomplishment,” Wells said. 

Belmont Trolley plans to have the trolley service by late 2023. 

The city of Belmont and Belmont Tourism Authority pitched in for the project. 

Belmont Trolley is raising $2.5 million to restore the cars and build a car barn. Most of the funds will go toward the car barn. Wells said it will serve as a place to store the cars and a civic space for the city of Belmont.