Sunday, November 29, 2009

Streetcar Sundays - Charlotte, North Carolina

Today's streetcar postcard is courtesy of Robert Reeves, host of Live From The Surface of the Moon.
It's a great shot of a Southern Public Utilities streetcar with a conductor ready to make change if you don't happen to have the exact fare.

Charlotte's first streetcars began service in 1887 and were drawn by horses. By 1891, the streetcars had been converted to electric. The first streetcar line transported crowds of Charlotte residents to Latta Park, a 90-acre amusement center. The streetcar also enabled people who worked in Charlotte to live in Dilworth. Workers who moved farther out then began to rely on the streetcar as their primary means of transportation. When streetcar workers went on strike in 1919, it created a huge disruption for commuters, but also grew into one of Charlotte's most violent labor disputes, requiring mobilization of the National Guard.

The strike began on August 10, 1919, when motormen and conductors walked off the job, demanding higher wages and recognition of unions. Southern Public Utilities attempted to run streetcar service with non-union replacements during the strike, however the workers and streetcars were attacked by rock-throwing strikers. Strike breakers had to be armed for their own protection.

On August 25, a crowd of 2,000 gathered in front of the Streetcar Barn, confronting 50 armed strikebreakers and about 30 police officers. After the first shot was fired, police opened fire, killing five people and wounding a dozen more. In the following days, six companies of the National Guard arrived to restore order. Citizen volunteers were also sworn in to patrol the streets and preserve the peace. The strike ended on September 5, when the two sides agreed on a contract.

The last owner of the railroad was Duke Power, which also began introducing gasoline-powered buses in 1934. Some of the original bus service consisted of feeder lines to the streetcar, but later bus service actually replaced streetcar lines. In 1937, Duke Power applied to the North Carolina Utilities Commission to abandon the street railway system and replace it with bus service. City officials viewed the change as progressive move towards modernization. Charlotte's streetcar service ceased operation in 1938

In 2003, the Charlotte Area Transit System or CATS added light rail service in Charlotte.

A non-profit organization, Charlotte Trolley, has restored some of the old trolley cars and provides weekend rides on historic Car 85. For more information on the history of the streetcar in Charlotte, visit the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, which is where I found most of this information for this post. also has interesting information on North Carolina interurbans and streetcar railroads.


  1. Hallo Christine,
    ichhab gesehen, das du mir ein Mail geschickt hast, kann sie aber nicht öffnen, weil ich tatsächlich mein Passwort vergessen hab.
    (Peinlich, Peinlich)
    Kannst du mir noch mal an folgende Adresse schreiben (Das Passwort weiß ich bestimmt)
    Ich wünsch dir einen schönen ersten Advent

  2. What a lot of information. thank you. Love the street car.



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