BELMONT, N.C. — There is an effort afoot in the city of Belmont to take transportation back to a time when trolleys rolled down the tracks, but with a modern twist.
A century ago, trolleys carried passengers into downtown Belmont, and with a little luck that history could come alive again.
"Belmont Trolley is a nonprofit organization based in Belmont, North Carolina,"
Rob Pressley, president of Belmont Trolley, said. "Our goals and objectives are to bring back trolley service to an area that had trolleys back many years ago."
The group is already restoring three trolley cars.
The initial plan is to run those trolleys on existing track from Belmont Abbey College into the downtown area, where passengers could board and disembark at a brand new trolley station.
"If we could attract 100-150,000 people a year to Belmont, to ride and to see our cars and to hear about the history of trains in our region... then that drives trips to restaurants, shops," Pressley said. "People come here, people decide to move here."
That’s the dream that powers this project. But what powers these cars? Not diesel fuel!
"As exciting as these historic cars are, to us equally exciting is this," Pressley said, gesturing to the power source. "This is the electric clean power source that will provide power to the motors that go to the trolley cars to make them move up and down the tracks."
Researchers and students at UNC Charlotte helped create this prototype to provide the “horsepower" -- bringing the past into the future.
"It hooks on to any one of the three trolleys, it can be maneuvered by remote control," Pressley said. "And instead of plugging into the wall like an electric vehicle, it has the ability to roll over certain portions of the track which will send power up into the car and charge the batteries."
If all goes according to plan, these trolley cars could start rolling by this time next year.