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Streetcar Line Tour

This is a brief history of several sites along the trolley line from South End to Uptown Charlotte. Two historic themes are evident -- industrialization, especially textiles, and transportation, especially streetcars and railroads.

Charlotte was a major center of what is known as the New South Movement. People like D. A. Tompkins of Charlotte and Henry Grady of Atlanta believed that the South must industrialize by developing the textile industry. Edward Dilworth Latta, Stuart Cramer, F. C. Abbott and others took this message to heart in the late 1800's and began to push Charlotte into the industrial age. The Trolley Line extends through the industrial district of Dilworth, Charlotte's first suburban industrial park.

 

 

1. Railroad Track
 


 

  • Completed in 1852
  • Carried the Charlotte and South Carolina Railroad from Charlotte to Columbia and then on to Charleston. Financed by Charlotte businessmen.
  • First railroad track to arrive in Charlotte. Each night when the work crews finished work they would blow the whistle on the steam locomotive. Everybody in Charlotte was excited.
  • The building of the railroad was the single most important event in Charlotte's economic history.
  • Vital railroad connection during the Civil War. Robert E. Lee rode down this line shortly before his death in early 1870's.
  • In 1890's became part of the Southern Railroad. Now owned by Norfolk Southern.

    2. Streetcar 85
     


     

  • Body assembled by Southern Public Utilities Company in carbarn on Bland St.
  • Final interior work done by South Public Utilities Company in carbarn on Bland St.
  • Car was completed and went into service in 1927.
  • Car was retired from service in 1938
  • Car served as National Guard Office at airport for about a year.
  • Car hauled to Caldwell Station near Cornelius and became a convenience store.
  • Car was bought by Daisy Mae Trapp Moore in late 1950's and used as rental housing.
  • Car Found by Planner Carl Flick in 1987 at end of David St. in Huntersville.
  • Car bought by Charlotte Trolley, Inc. for $1000 in 1988.
  • Restoration began in May 1989.
  • Streetcar 85 hauled by McLeod Rigging Co. to South Boulevard in October 1993.
  • Streetcar 85 went into service between South End & Uptown Charlotte in August 1996.

    3. Atherton Cotton Mill
     


     

  • Located out the back door of carbarn. It is the building with the tall brick smokestack.
  • Construction started in 1892.
  • Mill opened in 1893. First factory in Dilworth.
  • Owned and operated by D. A. Tompkins, a leader of the Southern textile industry at the turn of the century and founder of the Charlotte Observer.
  • Many women and children worked in the mill. Mill houses survive on Euclid Ave.
  • It was a spinning mill and illustrates how important textiles were to Charlotte's growth in the later 1800's.
  • Closed in the 1930's and used as a warehouse space.
  • Has been turned into condominiums and offices.

    4. Parks-Cramer Company
     


     

  • Everything you see around you at the carbarn, including the carbarn itself, the metal building along the track, the SouthEnd Brewery, and the building housing Interiors Marketplace, was the industrial plant of the Parks-Cramer Company.
  • Parks-Cramer Co. was formed in 1918 when the G. M. Parks Company of Fitchburg, Massachusetts purchased Stuart Cramer's business interests.
  • Stuart Cramer was another leader in the textile industry. He invented the term "Air Conditioning." Town of Carmerton named for him.
  • South Boulevard Complex of Parks-Cramer Co. factories was built in 1919.
  • Manufactured humidifying equipment for textile industry.

    5. Nebel Knitting Mill
     


     

  • Nebel Knitting Mill was a knitting mill. It made full fashion silk hosiery for women.
  • Named for the founder of the Company, William Nebel.
  • He was a third-generation German hosiery knitter.
  • Factory was designed by Charlotte architect and engineer Richard C. Biberstein.
  • Constructed in 1927 and expanded in 1929 & 1946.
  • Mill closed in 1968.
  • Front part is Spaghetti Warehouse, and back portion will be a Carolinas Design Center.

    6. Dilworth
    The neighborhood you'll be in when your ride begins.
     


    Edward Dilworth Latta (1851-1925)


     

  • Latta was a South Carolinian who came to Charlotte in 1876.
  • He and his brother established men's clothing store.
  • In 1883 he started the Charlotte Trouser Co. in Uptown Charlotte.
  • Met Thomas Edison in 1890 who convinced him to go in the real estate business and establish an electric streetcar line in Charlotte.
  • Dilworth was Charlotte's first streetcar suburb. Opened on May 20, 1891. Trolley service began the same day.
  • There were no automobiles in Charlotte in 1891.
  • Your ride on the trolley goes through the industrial district of Dilworth.
     

  • A view of the industrial heart of Dilworth, in 1907. The building on the left is the Charlotte Trouser Company. Next to it is the Park Manufacturing Company, Charlotte Cordage Company, and, on the right, Mecklenburg Roller Mills.


     

  • Trolley line built by Edison Electric Company for $40,000.

     

  • 7. Wilmore
    The neighborhood you'll be in while riding between East Boulevard and East Park Ave.
     
  • Wilmore established in 1914 by developer F. C. Abbott.
  • Made up of two farms, one belonging to the Wilson family and one to the Moore family. That's why it is called Wilmore.
  • East Boulevard and Park Ave. were extended across railroad track to connect Dilworth and Wilmore.
  • Wilmore was also served by a trolley line running south on Mint St. from Uptown.

    8. Made In The Carolinas Exhibition Building
     



     

  • Built in 1923 as part of Made In The Carolinas Industrial Exposition.
  • Used to display industrial products made in North and South Carolina.
  • Thousands rode train to visit the site.
  • Governors of North Carolina and South Carolina were at official opening ceremonies.
  • Band from Russia came to perform.
  • Later the building was converted into an A&P Grocery Store.

    9. Trolley Barn
     


     

  • First streetcars in Charlotte were horse-drawn. Began operating on January 3, 1887.
  • Electric streetcars or trolleys began operating on May 20, 1891.
  • Trolley Line was taken over by Southern Power Company (later the Southern Public Utilities Company and Duke Power) in 1911.
  • Ran to neighborhoods like Dilworth, Myers Park, Elizabeth, Wilmore, Piedmont Park, Belmont-Villa Heights, Biddleville and Washington Heights.
  • Site of violent strike in 1919. Company officials occupied the carbarn and were attacked by strikers. There were deaths.
  • Streetcars quit running in March 1938. This became the bus barn.
  • Interior finish work for Streetcar 85 was performed in this building in 1927.

    10. Charlotte Trouser Co./Lance Building
     


     

  • Charlote Trouser Co. moved to Dilworth from Uptown Charlotte in 1894.
  • Second oldest factory building in Dilworth. The Atherton Mill is the oldest.
  • Manufactured men's trousers for distribution throughout the country.
  • Company founded by Edward Dilworth Latta, but he had sold it by time it moved to Dilworth.
  • Later occupied and expanded by Lance Packing Company.
  • Old Charlotteans remember smelling roasting peanuts as they drove up South Boulevard.
  • Converted into condominiums.

    11. Park Manufacturing Company Building Site
    (Burned February 1997. Destroyed June 1998)
     


     

  • Built in 1895 and expanded in 1901.
  • Manufactured pumps, heaters and primarily elevators.
  • One of six factories that opened in Dilworth in 1895.
  • Park Elevator Company vacated in 1980's.
  • Became a night club. Hootie and the Blowfish performed here.

    11. Stonewall Street Station
     


     

  • Stonewall Street was the southern edge of Charlotte in 1891.
  • Streetcars made suburban development possible.
  • Charlotte, named for Queen Charlotte of the German State of Mecklenburg, is one of the oldest cities in the Piedmont Carolinas. Older than Old Salem, for example.
  • Founder was Thomas Polk, a relative of President James K. Polk.
  • Established in 1768.
  • Became the County Seat of Mecklenburg County in 1774.

    Miscellaneous Items

    Camden Road is one of the oldest roads in Mecklenburg County. Named because it led to Camden South Carolina. Charles Cornwallis and the British Army moved up this road when they occupied Charlotte in September 1780.

    Park Ave. is so named because it leads to Latta Park. Latta Park was put at the end of the trolley line to encourage ridership. The University of North Carolina played Davidson in football there. There was a lake for boating and a summer theater.

    Bland St. is named for Dr. Charles Alberto Bland. He was one of Edward Dilworth Latta's partners in developing Dilworth and establishing the trolley line.

    Carson Blvd. is named for the Carson family, who owned and operated two gold mines in the area.

    Until 1891, there was no bridge carrying Morehead St. over the railroad track. Morehead St. is named for John Motley Morehead, who was a leader in promoting railroad construction in North Carolina. The Morehead Scholarships at UNC Chapel Hill are named for him.

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