The City of Belmont is located at the northern end of a large peninsula of land surrounded by the Catawba River to the east, Lake Wylie to the south, and the South Fork of the Catawba River to the west. This location somewhat insulated Belmont from the happenings in Gastonia and Charlotte since it was necessary to ford the rivers to get to either city. The construction of the railroad in 1871 and the subsequent siting of the Garibaldi Station along the tracks provided a link with the rest of the region. In 1872, the Caldwell Plantation was purchased and subsequently donated to the Benedictine monks and eventually led to the formation of Belmont Abbey. As the area surrounding Garibaldi Station and the Abbey developed into a small downtown area, the downtown portion of Belmont began to take shape. This built up area formed the core of Belmont when it was incorporated as a town in 1895. Most land outside of the town, including the peninsula, remained rural with inhabitants relying on agriculture for their livelihood. The coming of the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800’s was to bring about changes for the developing Belmont community.

 As the Industrial Revolution took place, textile manufacturing became an importantindustryformuchofthesouth, includingthe Charlottemetropolitan area. Gastonia, located just west of Belmont, was the fourth largest textile center in the state by 1860. Belmont maintained much of its agricultural character until 1901 when the Chronicle Mill became the first textile facility within Belmont. Access to the railroad, proximity to Gastonia and Charlotte, and its location on the South Fork of the Catawba and Catawba Rivers provided an ideal location for the emerging textile industry. By the 1930’s, over twenty textile mills were located in Belmont causing the population to soar from 145 people near the turn of the century to over 4,000 people. Many of the mills were planned as distinct “mill villages” which often included churches, stores, and residences to serve and house mill workers. These mill villages often provided a sense of community within the greater Belmont community. The legacy of these mill villages lives on today as the layout and visual appearance of Belmont, particularly older sections of the city, still reflects its early roots in textiles despite the waning of the textile industry in recent years.

The 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s brought about the decline of the textile industry throughout the Charlotte region, while Belmont was largely able to stave off major losses until the late 80’s and early 90’s. A short period of decline followed, until the beginning of the Twenty-First Century brought about increased interest in Belmont and surrounding areas as people looked to take advantage of its proximity to Charlotte, location along a major interstate (I-85), and the adjacency to the rivers and Lake Wylie. Since the turn of the century, Belmont has seen the approval of numerous residential developments within and adjacent to current city limits. Remaining portions of the peninsula are quickly developing and portions of downtown are experiencing redevelopment and revitalization. Many of these developments are relatively high-end, including numerous waterfront properties, providing Belmont with an interesting mix of modern subdivisions and more modest established mill era housing. This modern era of development has Belmont poised at an interesting crossroads where it can establish a new identity while still maintaining its mill era sense of community.