From Agriculture to Industry
Transportation can change everything. Before becoming Belmont, this area was a trading center for the farmers settled in the South Point Township. In 1870, in the heart of the Civil War Reconstruction Era, the Richmond & Danville Railroad, a predecessor of Southern Railway, organized the Atlanta and Richmond Air-line for the purpose of building a line from Charlotte to Atlanta. The line crossed the Catawba river at Wells Plantation south of Sloan's Ferry. In 1871, John Garibaldi, a Mecklenberg County ironworker, built a wooden water tank near this spot as a water stop, also with a wood yard to fire the locomotives. In Sept 1873, the rail line was completed. The addition of this significant infrastructure spurred growth at this rail stop, which became known as Garibaldi Station, or as the locals affectionately called it... "Baldy."
In 1876 a Benedictine Order founded a monastery on a 500 acre tract of the Caldwell Plantation North of this rail stop. In 1883 this monastery became Maryhelp Abbey, and a school which would become Belmont Abbey College.
Garibaldi station was renamed Belmont in 1886, from the urging of Right Reverend (later bishop) Leo Haid of St Mary's College, (aka Belmont Abbey). The monks wished to disassociate from the name "Garibaldi," as at the time the global reference for that name would have been the military leader Giuseppe Garibaldi who led the unification of Italy in opposition to the Pope and the Catholic church. Belmont was incorporated as a town on March 6, 1895. The corporate limits were set at one-forth mile each direction from the rail road crossing.
Trains have long been a feature inherent in Belmont’s culture. And although no longer with active fueling or passenger stations, current day Belmont still has its share of trains and train watchers. Listen to Belmont Native Bob Atterberry's fond memories of barbershop cuts and trains.