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Piedmont & Northern Thrift Station

Old Mount Holly Road


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Go out Freedom Drive past I-85 to Paw Creek, turn left on the Old Mount Holly Road and look for the brick railroad station on your right. It's a lonely sentinel of the past now surrounded by massive fuel tanks.

You'd never guess that this begrimed and battered little terminal was a festive place on April 2, 1912. That's when William States Lee, Vice President of the Southern Power Company (now Duke Power), Mayor C. A. Bland and the Charlotte Board of Aldermen swished by on the maiden run of the Piedmont and Northern interurban train. There were no cinders or soot on the P&N. "One may thrust one's head from the window at will, without the instant descent of a multitude of tiny black particles which find lodgement in hair and eyes," bragged a Charlotte Observer reporter. The Piedmont and Northern was an all-electric railroad, as advanced in its day as the mighty jets that now zoom down the runways at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport. Mayor Bland and his companions paid 20 cents for their tickets at Blake's Drugstore on the Southwest corner of the Square, rode down Tryon Street and turned right for the 35-minute ride to Mount Holly and then on to Gastonia. The breeze tussled their hair as the dignitaries leaned out the windows of the shiny new train and waved at the crowds along the way.

The folks at Paw Creek surged to the edge of the platform of the Thrift Depot, named for the nearby Thrift Cotton Mill, when they heard the horn blaring down the track. Overhead wires guided the sleek electric train into the station. After a brief pause, the motorman grabbed the controller or throttle and propelled the P&N train and its prestigious passengers toward the bridge across the Catawba River.

C. C. Hook and his partner, W. G. Rogers, designed three types of P&N stations -- passenger stations, freight stations, and combined passenger and freight stations. They were constructed in 1912-13 on a 98-mile run from Spartanburg to Greenwood, S.C. and a 21-mile line from Charlotte to Gastonia. Passenger service ended in 1951.

For more information...

Survey & Research Report: Thrift Depot of the Piedmont & Northern Railroad