Railroad Stations: Shenandoah Ave. and Randolph St. for Norfolk and Western Ry.; Jefferson and Walnut Sts. for Virginian Ry.

Bus Stations: 16 W.Church Ave. for Greyhound Lines; 608 S.Jefferson St. for PanAmerican Lines.

Taxis: Fare 25 cents within city limits.

Streetcars: Fare 7 cents, 4 tokens 35 cents, weekly pass $2.

Accommodations: 13 hotels; tourist homes.

Information Service: Chamber of Commerce, 13 W. Church Ave.

Radio Station: WDBJ (930 kc.).

Theaters and Motion Picture Houses: Roanoke Theater, 15 W.Campbell Ave.; Academy of Music, S. side of W. Salem Ave. near Park (5th) St., concerts and road shows; 7 motion picture houses, including 1 for Negroes.

Golf: Monterey Golf Club, 1.2 m. N. on County 605 (R) off State 11S, 18 holes; Blue Hills Golf Club, 1-5 m. N. on County 605 (R) off State 111S, 18 holes; greens fees for both $1 Sat., Sun., and holidays, 75 cents other days.

Suimming: Lakeside, 2.5 M. W. of city limits on State 24, open 9-8; Roberts Pool, 0.8 m. W. on US 11, open 7 a.m.-8 p.m.; adm. at both 25 cents, children 15 cents; Blue Hills Golf Club pool, open 6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m., adrn. 25 cents

Tennis: Courts in 10 of 12 parks in City (2 courts for Negroes), free.

Annual Events: Roanoke County Fair, Sept.

ROANOKE (950 alt., 69,206 pop.) lies in a bowl formed by the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains and ranks third in population among Virginia cities, though in 1880 it was only the small town of Big Lick. Within the southern corporate limits rises Mill Mountain, detached from surrounding ranges. Its summit commands a view of twisting streams, ridges, valleys, and distant peaks. From the mountain's base extend streets, cut by railroad tracks, creeks, the winding course of the Roanoke River, and by parks generously scattered throughout the city.

It is perfectly evident that the population is not preponderantly Virginian, for people seem always in a hurry. Industrial executives, factory workers, merchants, and professional people make up the majority of those seen on the streets.

The era of architectural ugliness in which Roanoke was born and the city's precocious growth have complicated the task of the planning commission created in 1928. Shops and factories are near the center of the city as well as toward the outskirts, and better sections are close to those not so good. There are unsightly areas of houses quickly built and poorly kept, and junk heaps near historic places. The retail district, with Jefferson Street as its axis, is crowded between railroad tracks and Tazewell Avenue. Houses in the older residential section are late Victorian, but suburban developments give evidence of an architectural renaissance.

The Negro population, 18 per cent of the whole, finds work principally in factories and railroad shops and yards. Negroes are skilled in manipulating the immense car wheels, a task that requires a delicate sense of balance. Though several Negro residential districts reflect a wage scale higher for Negroes than that prevailing in most other Virginia cities, many districts show the need for slum clearance.

The opening of the Blue Ridge Parkway from a point 25 miles south of Roanoke to the Pinnacles of the Dan and the completion of the Skyline Drive to Rockfish Gap near Waynesboro bring thousands of visitors through Roanoke annually. Plans for the ultimate development of the two scenic highways involve the parkway's circling Roanoke and joining the drive north of the city.

One hundred and sixty-one industries and 11 utility companies thrive in Roanoke, annually paying 17,711 people salaries that total $23,893,840. Though the railroad shops and the enormous cellulose factories are the mainsprings of industrial prosperity, and though the city owes its origin wholly to the establishment here of a railroad terminal and shops, the surrounding country with its fertility and wealth of natural resources has contributed to the miraculous growth of Roanoke.

The country around Roanoke was once a favorite hunting ground of the Indians, attracted by the abundance of game drawn to the salt deposits, or 'licks,' within the limits of the present city. In 1654 Abraham Wood passed this way, and in 1671 his son Thomas came through, having set out from the Indian town of Appomattox 'in order to discover the South Sea,' he wrote in his diary.

When Augusta County was formed in 1738, the valley of the Roanoke lay within its boundaries. Settlements were made here as early as 1740. In 1749 Dr.Thomas Walker of Albemarle organized the Loyal Land Company and on a trip to explore the country found squatters in the valley. At the 'Great Lick they bought corn for their horses from Michael Campbell' and farther on 'lodged at James Robinson's.'

The French and Indian War almost wrecked these frontier settlements, yet a few stalwart people continued to hold their homes, and others came to set up homesteads. About the turn of the century Old Lick, already a stage on the Great Road down the valley, became an important crossroads when it was reached by the turnpike running west from Lynchburg.

In 1834 the community made its first effort to become a town. Streets were laid out and lots were sold, but only the little town of Gainsborough materialized. Salem, and not Big Lick, was made the seat of Roanoke County when it was created in 1838.

In 1852 the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad built a depot at Big Lick and a few shops and stores followed immediately. In 1858 IshamM. Ferguson established a tobacco factory in the village, and ic, years later a canning factory was put in operation. Big Lick was chartered as a town in 1874; John Trout was elected mayor; the council met regularly in Rorer's Hall; and the town even erected a calaboose 12 feet square. Four years later The Big Lick News printed its first edition.

In 1881 it was noised abroad that two railroads, the Shenandoah Valley and the Norfolk and Western, were seeking a junction point. John C. Moomaw suggested that the council offer inducements that would bring the terminal to Big Lick and started on a 50-mile ride to Lexington, where he was to confer the next day with railroad officials. He had arranged that a messenger convey to him at Buchanan in the morning details of the town's offer. The council promised a terminal and $10,000. Charles W. Thomas rode to Buchanan and delivered the papers to Mr. Moomaw, who hurried on to Lexington. The junction was awarded to Big Lick.

In 1882 the town changed its name to Roanoke (Ind., shell money) and extended its limits. In 1881 there had been less than 700 inhabitants; in 1883 there were 5,000, and Roanoke received its city charter the next year. In 1906 the Virginian Railway came, bringing its shops and its great coal traffic. Mark Twain was a passenger on the first Virginian coach that entered the city. In succeeding years many industries have been attracted to Roanoke.


ELMWOOD PARK, Jefferson St. between Bullitt and Elm Aves., is a seven-and-a-half-acre landscaped municipal park and children's playground. A large cream-painted brick house with Dutch-style stepped gable ends, built by Jonathan Tosh in 1820, stands on the crest of the steep, wooded knoll in the center. The house is occupied by the PUBLIC LIBRARY (open10-9 weekdays, 3-6 Sun. and holidays), founded by local women in 1920 and opened in 1921. The city donated the park grounds and provided financial support. The library maintains four branches, one for Negroes, and has more than 58,000 volumes, including a collection of illuminated manuscripts and local Virginiana.

LONE OAK (private), SW. comer Franklin Rd. and King George (16th) Ave., on a hill facing Mill Mountain and overlooking the Roanoke River, is a red-painted brick house of modern appearance. Its central block, with walls two feet thick, was built by the Tosh family, incorporating an earlier log house. It was known originally as 'Rock of Ages' from the rock ledge on which it stands, and was probably the first brick house in this part of the valley. The house is surrounded by five acres of lawn and gardens restored to their Colonial character--all that is left of the Tosh land.

MILL MOUNTAIN (2, 183 alt.), S. edge of city limits, rises more than 1,000 feet above the city. For some distance up the tree-covered side facing Roanoke, new and old houses cling like Swiss chalets on the mountain's almost vertical flank. In 1910 an incline trolley line was built to the summit, which affords a magnificent view of mountains and valley and of the city itself. The popularity of precipitous LAUREL ROAD (toll 50 cents for car and 2 persons, 10 cents each additional person), off Ivy St. S. from Walnut St., caused the cable car to be abandoned in 1930, and its track was removed in 1934. From the foot of the mountain issues CRYSTAL SPRING, E. side of S.Jefferson St. and Wellington Ave. between Hamilton Terrace and McClanahan St. It has a flow of 5,000,000 gallons daily and provides water for the city.

The AMERICAN VISCOSE CORPORATION PLANT (open by arrangement), S. end of E.9th St., one of the largest artificial silk factories in the world, occupies a neatly kept plant on a 120-acre tract where a Saponi Indian village once stood. Opened in 1917, it has expanded swiftly. With a production capacity in 1937 of 30,000,000 pounds, the company employs nearly 5,000 workers. The plant was originally owned by British capital.

The viscose process was developed from the inventions of three Englishmen, Cross, Bevan, and Topharn. It is the latest and now most generally used of four methods of rayon manufacture. Spruce wood pulp, before reaching the plant, is ground and pressed into creamy-white, blotterlike sheets about two feet square and an eighth of an inch thick. It is piled in 250-pound batches, which are identified by number through every step in the process in order to balance exactly the quantity of chemicals with which they are to be treated. The batches are mercerized by steeping in a caustic soda solution, drained, shredded into a damp, cottony mass of 'crumbs,' aged for several hours in temperature-controlled rooms, and treated with carbon bisulphide to form orange-colored cellulose xanthate. Dissolved in another caustic solution, the material becomes a brown, sticky, viscous liquid. Pipes carry this modified cellulose from filters to hundreds of tanks in the cellars, where it is stored at an even temperature, and then fed under pressure to the spinning machinery. Each unit consists of a 'spinnerette,' a nozzle perforated by invisibly fine orifices, through which the brown fluid oozes into a precipitating medium-a dilute sulphuric acid bath, flowing in troughs. The coarse thread that forms immediately is stretched and slightly twisted as it is wound into a small cylinder in a'bucket' revolving 6,000 to 10,000 times a minute. Solidification of the fluid is instantaneous, and swiftly moving thread is made, within a few inches of the 'spinnerette,' out of 50 to 150 separate filaments, depending on the number of perforations. Washing and drying the 'cakes' taken from the 'buckets' removes most of the acid solution and strengthens the thread, which is then unwound into skeins and treated with sodium sulphide to desulphurize and refine the greenish-yellow yam. Bleaching gives it a silken lustre. Again washed and dried, the yarn is sorted, inspected, loosely wound on spools, then rewound tightly on cones. During the winding processes several vast halls are filled with the deafening hum of thousands of whirling spools and cones. Six or seven days elapse between the shredding of impure cellulose and the last act in the transformation of spruce logs into thread.

The CARR HOUSE (private), Dale Ave. (Vinton Rd.) between 22nd and 23rd Sts., a sturdy, two-story building with brick end chimneys, was built entirely of hand-hewn logs about 1806, by Colonel George W. Carr. It was first the home of the Akers family and then the plantation home of Colonel Carr, who served in the Mexican War. Near the house stand FouR SLAVE CABINS, snug two-story houses in excellent repair, also of handhewn logs with plaster chinking. Three are occupied by white tenants, but in the fourth lives Aunt Winnie Divers, believed to be (1939) about 107 years old.

The NORFOLK AND WESTERN SHOPS (open), Norfolk St. E. of Randolph St., including several vast brick buildings and numerous smaller sheds, all blackened by smoke, spread over a 145-acre tract in the center of the city. Beneath the lofty roof of one immense building, the mottled gray and red shell of a new locomotive may hang in the easy clutches of a giant overhead crane, while deafening blows contribute to its completion. At another end of this shop, a powerful locomotive, new or reconstructed, may straddle a pit, as workmen paint its gleaming flanks. Machines are everywhere-snarling lathes, saws that eat into steel as though it were butter, casting molds, and welding tools that send off showers of sparks. Shouts rise above the clanging din in the ENGINE-ERECTING SHOP to make way for a gigantic new engine part suspended from a traveling crane overhead. In the PAINT SHOP rows of wheelless new coaches or freight cars receive protective coats of orange paint. Among the buildings are a blacksmith shop, machine shop, boiler shop, foundry, planing mill, car-erecting shop, lumber yards, storehouses, lumber kiln, and a 22-Stall engine house.

These main repair shops of the Norfolk and Western Railway have a production capacity of 4 locomotives per month and 20 freight cars per day. With the rest of the railroad's local facilities, they constitute Roanoke's chief industry, employing about 6,000 workers at an annual pay roll of $9,350,000. The shops, acquired by the railroad in 1883, were started two years earlier as the Roanoke Machine Works and have been enlarged several times.

HOME OF BIG LICK GARDEN CLUB (Negro), SE. corner Lynchburg Ave. and E-4th St., a small two-story frame structure built about 1837, was long thought to be the first Roanoke postoffice. During the days of the stagecoach, however, mail was exchanged and delivered at hostelries. The first authorized postoffice was in the little depot of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad and was moved about 1868 to the Neal House near by. The Big Lick Garden Club was organized in 1930 and has 40 members. There are four other Negro garden clubs in Roanoke-the Ideal, Sunset, Magic City, and Homemakers.

The RALEIGH TAVERN (private), Lynchburg Ave. between E. 2nd and E. 4th Sts., is a long, unpainted frame building with a two-story gallery porch and a pair of brick end chimneys. Built about the beginning of the nineteenth century and long known as Pate's Tavern, it was for several decades a popular stopping place for travelers on the north-south stages or on the road from Lynchburg west to Seven Mile Ford. Passengers could alight on the tavern's broad steps, which still hug the dirt road. During the War between the States local women nursed wounded soldiers here. In a little frame house opposite lives (1939) Aunt Martha, a former slave, more than 95 years old.

The MUNICIPAL MARKET, bounded by Campbell Ave., Salem, Nelson, and Wall Sts., is housed in a commodious three-story brick building. The market was established in 1885 in quarters that have been subsequently enlarged. On a vast expanse of first-floor space are vendors' stalls, displaying products from neighboring farms and distant places. On the second floor a matron keeps children happy while mothers make purchases or sell their wares. The third floor is given over to offices of market executives and to a large auditorium where dances and public meetings are held. On the sidewalks around the building country folk set up stands, gay from early spring till late fall with many-colored flowers, fruits, and vegetables. A paved parking square is continually crowded with automobiles and hucksters' trucks.

BELMONT (private), in Monterey Golf Course on Tinker Creek, just across bridge (R) off State 11S, long known as 'Monterey,' is a wide onestory log house painted white, with several rooms and wide stone-flagged porch. The 530-acre tract called Bell Mount upon which the house was built was conveyed by Israel Christian to William Fleming, who had married Christian's daughter in 1763. Dr. Fleming, member of the Continental Congress in 1779-80, and the only man from west of the Blue Ridge ever to sit in that body, landed at Norfolk in 1755. This Jedburgh-born Scot and graduate of Edinburgh, having quit His Majesty's Navy in which he was a surgeon for several years, began almost at once to play a militant part in his adopted country. He joined Major Andrew Lewis as a lieutenant and surgeon on the'Sandy Creek Voyage,' the unsuccessful expedition sent out by Governor Dinwiddie in 1756 to join the friendly Cherokee against the Shawnee and the French along the Ohio; he became an ensign in the First Virginia Regiment, commanded by Washington, and was made a captain in 1760; later he practiced medicine at Staunton; and moved to his new home here in 1768. He commanded the Botetourt regiment at Point Pleasant in 1774. Though shot twice in the arm and once through the chest, he assumed command when all the other leaders had fallen, and his shouted commands forced part of his lung through the bullet hole in his chest. In 1781 he was a member of Governor Jefferson's council. After the expiration of Jefferson's term on June 1, Colonel Fleming acted as governor for nearly two weeks before a successor could be appointed. Fleming fled before Tarleton with the legislature to Staunton. While he was 'holding his court' in Staunton, the nervous legislature indulged in a second run for its life on a false rumor that Tarleton had crossed the Blue Ridge--a flight so precipitate that Patrick Henry is said to have left Staunton wearing only one boot. Colonel Fleming died at Belmont in 1795 and lies buried somewhere near the house.


Veterans' Facility Hospital, 6.9 m.; Hollins College, 7.7 tn.; (see Tour 5b).

City of Roanoke HomePage