|System||Charlotte Area Transit System|
|Locale||Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina|
|Termini||Atherton Mill (south)
9th Street (north)
|Owner||Charlotte Area Transit System|
|Operator(s)||Charlotte Area Transit System|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
The Charlotte Trolley was a heritage streetcar that operated in Charlotte in the U.S. state of North Carolina. The line ran along the former Norfolk Southern right of way between Tremont Avenue in the Historic South End in a northerly direction to its terminus at 9th Street Uptown. It ran on tracks shared with the LYNX Blue Line.
The Charlotte Trolley represented the return of streetcar service to the city of Charlotte since the closure of its original network on March 14, 1938, which had been in operation since May 18, 1891. The return of the trolley came on August 30, 1996, running in the evenings on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons for an initial six-month trial period. The trial period occurred on a 1.8-mile rail line between the Atherton Mill trolley barn and Stonewall Street.
Through the initial six months of operation ending on February 28, 1997, the trolley saw a ridership of 25,000. As a result of the success of the trial run of the trolley, Norfolk Southern awarded the trolley a one-year extension of the agreement to use its track.
After a new bridge was completed over Stonewall Street, 7-day-a-week service commenced between Atherton Mill in the South End and 9th Street Uptown on June 28, 2004. Operations prior to that date were run by a group of volunteers (some retirees) where some of them were hired by the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) which has operated the Trolley since that time. At that time, CATS purchased 3 replica trolley to Car #85, a vintage trolley dating back to the 1920s.
Suspension and end of trolley service
Service was temporarily halted on February 5, 2006, when construction began to convert the route into a light rail line. Initially service was to only be halted for a year, with the trolley running approximately a year before light rail service commenced. However, by November 2006 CATS determined it would be unfeasible to run the trolley service with the corridor still under construction.
Service resumed on April 20, 2008, with the vintage trolley cars running on the same tracks as the LYNX light rail vehicles. With the opening of the LYNX Blue Line, the Charlotte Trolley ended its daily service. It continued to run on weekends until the service completely ended on June 28, 2010. However, Charlotte Trolley still maintains a trolley museum just outside East/West station.
Trolley No. 1 was originally built in Philadelphia by J.G. Brill in 1907 and originally used in Athens, Greece. The trolley's restoration was complete in 1989 by trolley restorer Bruce Thain of Guilford, Connecticut.
This historic significance of Car 85 was that it was the final electric streetcar to run in Charlotte on March 14, 1938. Following its final journey, the city would rely solely on bus transit to serve its citizens until the opening of the Blue Line in 2007. After retirement it was sold for $100, along with all the remaining cars, and lost into obscurity for nearly 50 years before its discovery in a Huntersville neighborhood in November 1987.
Upon its discovery, the Charlotte Historic Landmarks Commission led the charge in its restoration. Its restoration commenced at SpringFest '89 and was completed in 1991 at a cost of just over $100,000.
Returning to service in 1996, Car 85 served riders through 2006 when service was temporally halted. In March 2007, it was announced that due to safety concerns, Car 85 would not be utilized as part of the historic trolley network at its reopening in 2007. Charlotte Trolley, Inc., owns Car 85 and entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2008 with the City of Charlotte to allow special excursion service for Car 85 up to two times per year. It is currently housed in CATS' light rail maintenance facility on South Blvd.
Asheville Trolley Car #117 was manufactured in 1927 by J.G. Brill and is commonly known as a "Birney Safety Car". In the fall of that year, the Carolina Power & Light Company purchased ten of these cars to operate on the streets of Asheville, North Carolina.
Car #117 awaits restoration at the Charlotte Trolley Car Barn.
- Whitacre, Dianne (July 10, 1996). "Trolley Ho! Vintage car will roll between Uptown and Dilworth.". The Charlotte Observer.
- Del Pino, Oscar (August 16, 1995). "Clang, clang go the trolleys". The Charlotte Observer. pp. 1C.
- Whitacre, Dianne (August 28, 1996). "Clang! Clang! Clang! - Trolley back on track starting Friday". The Charlotte Observer. pp. 1C.
- Smith, Doug (March 1, 1997). "Trolley gets a one-year extension". The Charlotte Observer. pp. 1D.
- Whitacre, Dianne (June 27, 2004). "Why one track? and other trolley trivia - 7-day-a-week service, costing $1, officially begins on Monday". The Charlotte Observer. pp. 2B.
- Coto, DaNica (February 6, 2006). "History on Hiatus: Trolley makes last run for a year". The Charlotte Observer. pp. 3B.
- Rubin, Richard (November 15, 2006). "Trolley running late on restart". The Charlotte Observer. pp. 1B.
- Harrison, Steve (April 16, 2008). "Trolley joining Lynx on light-rail tracks". The Charlotte Observer. pp. 1B.
- "Service Change - June 28, 2010". Charlotte Area Transit System. Archived from the original on 25 June 2010.
- "Charlotte, North Carolina, Debuts New Trolley Cars, October 16, 2004". Gomaco Trolley Company. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
- Whitacre, Dianne (August 23, 1989). "Trolley time! Blowout gala to accompany streetcar's return.". The Charlotte Observer.
- Gubbins, Pat Borden (March 4, 1990). "Ol' No. 85, last trolley to roll, leads way back to track.". The Charlotte Observer.
- Media related to Charlotte Trolley at Wikimedia Commons