BELMONT, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Belmont Trolley Inc., a nonprofit, has added two new historic trolleys to their fleet and is planning to put them to use in downtown Belmont as soon as 2023. The trolleys will transport people from downtown Belmont to Belmont Abbey College’s Sacred Heart Campus. 

“What way could you better connect the two? There’s a rail line that runs back and forth between the two but it was unused, it’s owned by the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Then the idea was born, maybe we run trolleys like they used to run in Charlotte. At one time decades ago they ran them in Belmont to run textile workers,” said Rob Pressley, President of Belmont Trolley Inc.

Pressley said the discussion about trolleys in Belmont started six years ago with a group of friends, and now Belmont Trolley Inc. has an entire board full of members helping the project succeed. 

One of the trolleys came from Canada and cost Belmont Trolley Inc. about $25,000. The other two are being leased out from Charlotte’s Historic Landmarks Commission.

“Not only was it a former streetcar for Charlotte, but it was the last car to run in Charlotte, it was car number 85,” Pressley said. 

Car 85, which is now sitting in the Belmont Public Works building, was the last trolley to grace the streets of Charlotte, and it was taken off the tracks in the late 1930s. Now Pressley is hoping it will be back on the streets of Belmont almost 100 years later, by 2023. 

“There’s a whole lot that goes into it including all the workings and mechanics underneath the car. But slowly but surely we continue to raise money and we continue to get the car one step closer to going on the tracks,” Pressley explained. 

As for how the cars will operate, UNC Charlotte’s engineering school is taking on the project with a brand-new approach.  

“So what we’re gonna do is just, instead of, you know, running off an overhead line, they came up with some new connectors, things like that. They will rewire this car, some minor rewiring, just to be able to hook it up to a battery cart.” 

Pressley said the trolleys will operate with clean energy and battery-powered engines. But the transportation aspect is just the beginning of the Belmont Trolley Inc.’s plans. 

“Our next steps are to construct and build a 6,000 square foot trolley barn that will house all three cars but will also serve as a community and event facility in downtown Belmont,” Pressley said. 

The renovations for the three trolleys have already started so now the fundraising for the rest of the project is going to have to begin. Pressley said Belmont Trolley is going to have to raise a few million dollars to construct their trolley barn and community center.