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    Introduction to Roanoke, Virginia and Surrounding Areas

    Roanoke is situated in the Roanoke Valley, west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The city is known as the "Star City of the South" and features the prominent Roanoke Star on Mill Mountain. The Appalachian Trail, the Blue Ridge Parkway and a wine making region are nearby. The Roanoke River runs through the town. The city is a major center for health care and retail businesses for the region.

    History or Roanoke

    The town was founded in 1852 and was known as Big Lick. The name was selected due to the huge outcropping of salt in the area. Big Lick was chosen as a railroad junction which significantly increased the population and stimulated the economy. In 1884 the town was established as Roanoke. During the Colonial era the city was a prominent location for trails and roads. The Great Wagon Road was one of the busiest roads during the 18th Century and ran through Roanoke.

    The Norfolk and Western Railway company produced steam locomotives in Roanoke and employed thousands of workers. The locomotives were manufactured in the city until 1953. Manufacturing companies moved to the city primarily due to the railroad. Regarding land, the city significantly expanded during the middle portion of the 20th Century due to annexation. Roanoke was once a prominent area for the garment industry.

    Roanoke Transportation

    The city is served by the Roanoke Regional Airport. The Valley Metro provides bus transportation.

    Attractions

    • The Center in the Square contains the History Museum of Western Virginia, the Science Museum of Western Virginia as well as the Hopkins Planetarium.
    • Virginia Museum of Transportation features locomotives which were constructed in the city.
    • Grandin Village.
    • Mill Mountain Star.
    • Texas Tavern.
    • Roanoke's Historical Fire Station #1.
    • St. Andrews Parish, State and National Landmark.
    • Roanoke Historic Farmers Market.
    • Hotel Roanoke is a historic building.
    • The Jefferson Center is a historic performance center.
    • Mabry Mill.

    Activities and Entertainment

    The surrounding area offers excellent opportunities for boating, fishing, camping and hiking. Some of the popular locations for activities and entertainment include:

    • Appalachian Trail
    • Virginia's Explore Park
    • Smith Mountain Lake
    • Blue Ridge Parkway
    • Mill Mountain Zoo
    • Roanoke Civic Center
    • George Washington & Jefferson National Forest
    • Commonwealth Games of Virginia
    • Mill Mountain Theater