(population 8,434), formerly known as Garibaldi Station, was originally named for Mecklenburg County ironworker John Garibaldi, who built a water tank for the old steam engines to replenish their boilers. Today Belmont is one of the fastest-growing towns in Gaston County. Located near Charlotte with easy access to I-85 and U.S. 74, travel time from Belmont to Downtown Charlotte if about 15 minutes. The friendly atmosphere, its wide selection of houses, and its location have contributed to the town’s growth.
Belmont is home to Belmont Abbey College, which offers traditional and nontraditional degree programs for more than 1,000 students. The Neo-gothic architecture of the older buildings adds special charm to the town.
For a peaceful afternoon, take a walking tour of the campus and look at the beautiful stained-glass windows in the cathedral. These won a prize at a Paris festival near the end of the 19th century. A portion of the former Sacred Heart College campus has become home to Holy Angels Nursery, a facility for severely handicapped children. The nursery has spearheaded a number of programs for handicapped children and has received national recognition. Also, in Belmont is the N.C. Center for Applied Textile Technology, one of only a few state-operated schools of its kind in the state.
Cramerton (population 2,371), west of Belmont, features a number of interesting sites from the heyday of textile mills. The town, said to be one of the best-preserved mill villages in the United States- was named for Stuart Cramer, who purchased and operated for several years the Mays and Mayflower mills. Cramer’s mansion, near the top of Cramer Mountain, was the starting point for the country club and community that was built on the mountain. The 6,645-yard, 18-hole golf course, designed by architect Dan Maples, takes advantages of the challenges and scenery the mountain presents. The county’s newest state-of-the-art middle school is located here and opened for the 1996-1997 school year.
Mount Holly (population 7,710) is near I-85 and just a short drive from Charlotte. The town was known as Woodlawn until brothers A.P. and Daniel E. Rhyne and Ambrose Costner built a textile mill. They asked the council to change the name for the town to Mount Holly, the same as a textile town in New Jersey in hopes that the state abbreviations NC and NJ would be confused by the post office and the North Carolina mill would get orders. Apparently, it worked. The mill and the town prospered. Mount Holly has gone through extensive road building in the past 10 years to improve travel in and through the town. This has made Mount Holly attractive to industry. The home office of American and Effird Mills is in Mount Holly and Freightliner has built one of truck manufacturing facilities near the town. Twinbrooks Industrial Park is in between Mount Holly and Stanley, and is home to several companies, including Rubbermaid, Walkisoft USA, The Queens Group, Inc., Niagra Theraphy Manufacturing Corp. and American Filtrona Corp. The manufacturers have helped diversify the industry in Gaston County and afford workers a choice of occupations.
Stanley (population 2,823) was formerly known as Brevard Station, in honor of Robert A. Brevard, who helped bring the railroad to the town about 1855. Years later, the name was changed to Stanley Creek, and still later the Creek was dropped. The town began as a farming community and still retains some of the charm. Stanley is the northern part of the N.C. 27 corridor that it shares with Mount Holly. The Queens Group, Dollinger-Technolab Inc., Gaston County Dyeing Machine Co., Talon and J.P. Stevens are located in the Stanley area.
McAdenville (population 830) is one of Gaston’s smallest towns is also one of the friendliest. Known as Christmastown USA, McAdenville is nationally famous for its display of Christmas lights. Residents decorate their house and yards with millions of lights and turn their town into a fairyland during the Christmas season. The tradition of driving or walking through the McAdenville light show began in 1956 and has continued ever since with the help of Pharr Yarns and the McAdenville Men’s Club along with the residents and volunteers. A bonus: You can take your Christmas cards to the McAdenville Post Office and have them canceled with the Christmastown postmark. Architecture in the town ranges from several large older homes to numerous smaller homes. Winding streets and a small downtown add to the town’s charm. Small restaurants, drugstores and grocery stores on the main street bring back the charm of small-town USA and are worth a visit.
Lowell (population 2,704) got its name from the Massachusetts textile-manufacturing town of the same name. Gaston’s Lowell is home to several industries, including Crompton-Knowles, AMP and some textile plants. Shady, older houses bring back the charm of early years of this century when people sat on the front porches visiting with neighbors. Lowell’s small downtown also brings back memories of earlier, friendlier times. The town is working to keep the image of a friendly place to live. Lowell is Northeast of Gastonia off Franklin Boulevard with easy access to I-85. Since it’s close proximity to the shopping centers that have opened between Gastonia and Lowell, the town is trying to increase its stock of specialty shops to attract customers. JS pottery on North Main Street, which produces handcrafted pottery including dinnerware and folkware, already draws people to town.
Ranlo (population 1,650) is one of Gaston’s newest towns, incorporated in 1963. It takes its name from the first letters of textile founding families Rankin and Love. The major industry in this town is textiles. Many of the houses are vintage mill village.
Spencer Mountain (population 135) is north of Lowell and Ranlo. Winding streets and hills give this town a mountain atmosphere. Check out the annual singing on the mountain in the summer and the Easter sunrise service on top of the mountain. Pharr Yarns is the major industry and owns most of the houses in this tiny town.
Dallas (population 3,012) is off U.S. 321 north of Gastonia. The town is home to Gaston College, a two-year community college with more than 22,000 students enrolled in programs from GED to nursing and engineering. Dallas was the first county seat and maintains much of its early charm. A walking tour of the town is interesting and informative. Before you begin, pick up maps and more information at the Gaston Museum of Art and History. Residents are friendly and eager to fill in historical facts for curious visitors or newcomers.
High Shoals (population 605) is on US 321 north of Dallas and Near the Lincoln County line.
Long Creek-Bessemer city
Bessemer City (population 4,698) is north of Gastonia and is home of Lithium mines owned by FMC Corp. Lithium Division. Lithium is a metal used in freezer-to-oven cookware, chlorine granules, TV picture tubes, batteries and pharmaceuticals. Downtown Bessemer City has the charm of an older, turn-of-the-century town and remains a busy place. Streets in the town are named after states.
Cherryville (population 4,756) is northwest of Gastonia near Lincoln and Cleveland counties. The trucking industry brought prosperity to Cherryville: In 1932, 26 year old Grier Beam, equipped with just one truck, started a company that grew into Carolina Freight Carriers. Cherryville supports a bustling downtown, which includes two museums. One of them is the C. Grier Beam Truck Museum and is devoted to the history of Carolina Freight. Cherryville is also famous for its New Year’s shooters. Each New Year’s Eve, the shooters travel through neighborhoods and fire antique muskets to scare away the evil spirits and guarantee residents a prosperous New Year. The event concludes with a ceremony at Cherryville High School Stadium.
Kings Mountain (population 8,763) belongs to both Gaston and Cleveland counties because it straddles the county line. The town is named for the Revolutionary War battle that was fought nearby in 1870. Although the patriots lost some men, including Maj. William Chronicle, they were successful in driving back the British troops. The battle was known as the turning point of the Revolution in the South. Each fall, the battle is reenacted. The celebration spills into the town and is one of the highlights of the fall season in Gaston County.
Located at the base of the mountain, the town features winding streets and a mountain atmosphere. Woodlake Corporate Park is attracting new industry such as Firestone Fibers and Textiles and a Sara Lee Plant