The Great Wagon Road from Philadelphia to the backcountry of the Carolinas crossed the Roanoke River here at Tosh's Ford, named for Thomas Tosh, in the eighteenth century. Nearby stood Daniel Evans's mill, another landmark on the road. A group of . . . — Map (db m14799) HM
The archaeological sites on the extensive floodplain nearby represent at least ten thousand years of periodic use by Native Americans. The artifacts and evidence from one site suggests that separate villages were occupied there some six hundred to . . . — Map (db m14798) HM
Nearby, on Nov. 1, 1852, the first Virginia & Tennessee Railroad train arrived in Big Lick (now Roanoke), three years after the company had been incorporated. The track from Lynchburg, Virginia to Bristol, Tennessee, was completed in 1856. In 1870, . . . — Map (db m16970) HM
Kimball (1844–1903) was Norfolk & Western’s second president and first chairman. Thanks to his leadership the railroad was headquartered in Roanoke and expanded westward into West Virginia and Ohio.
In 1907 this fountain, carved out of . . . — Map (db m82189) HM
The Hotel Roanoke was built in 1892 by the Norfolk and Western Railroad. Over the next century, despite fire and depression, it became the city's social center. The Tudor Revival building became a beloved landmark for thousands of visitors. Its . . . — Map (db m14960) HM
Roanoke’s “Grand Old Lady” stands on the hill overlooking downtown Roanoke. Styled to appear like an old English inn, it was the grand hotel for Roanoke since it opened in 1882. The Hotel was located near the new Union Station and a . . . — Map (db m16969) HM
McNeil Drive is named in honor of Samuel P. McNeil, the leading sponsor and founder of WBRA and educational television of Roanoke and Southwest Virginia. Mr. McNeil served as Chairman of WBRA for 25 years from its beginning in 1966 until he retired . . . — Map (db m3755) HM
The members of Mount Moriah Baptist Church belong to one of the region's earliest African American congregations, originating in a Sunday school for slaves established in the mid-1800s by Dr. Charles L. Cocke, founder of Hollins College. The group . . . — Map (db m17891) HM
Across the tracks and east is N&W’s last passenger station, now home to the Roanoke Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau and O. Winston Link Museum.
The little town of Big Lick changed its name to Roanoke in 1881. In the summer of 1882, the . . . — Map (db m15467) HM
Today’s Norfolk Southern has a colorful predecessor in both or Roanoke’s railroads. To keep this as simple as possible, we are discussing only the N&W history to its merger with the Southern Railway in 1982. Space prevents mentioning every merger or . . . — Map (db m15347) HM
Tradition has it that the church near by was built where Moravian and Lutheran missionaries preached soon after the Revolution. Here, in 1796, Lutherans held services and, a little later, organized their first congregation in this section. In 1828, . . . — Map (db m3763) HM
High Speed Freight Locomotive: Class A
While the title of one of Norfolk and Western’s company films (top) is appropriate for the mighty Class A 2-6-6-4, they also served in other capacities for the railroad. Designed as the first of the . . . — Map (db m15343) HM
Workhorse of the Norfolk and Western: Class Y6
While the sleek class J streamlined passenger locomotives and high stepping Class A locomotives garnered publicity for the N&W; the true workhorse of the Norfolk and Western was the Class Y . . . — Map (db m15346) HM
The first village here, at Pate's Mill and Tavern on Evans' Mill Creek, was called Big Lick for nearby salt marshes. In 1839 it was laid off as the town of Gainesborough. After the coming of the Virginia and Tennessee . . . — Map (db m14968) HM
In recent years, Roanoke has shed its image as a “railroad town” as others have surpassed the railroad as the major employer. However, without the N&W, Roanoke might not have existed. For those who wish to deny the impact of the railroad . . . — Map (db m15342) HM
The Roanoke farmers' market is one of the oldest such markets in continuous use in Virginia. In 1882, licenses were issued to twenty-five hucksters. The City of Roanoke's first charter formally authorized a municipally owned market in 1884, and the . . . — Map (db m14962) HM
The three locomotive types referred to on the nearby panels are part of the larger picture; of course. The Classes J, A and Y locomotives were special. What made these locomotives so special compared to products of the commercial builders of steam, . . . — Map (db m15348) HM
Passenger Locomotive: Class J
The world-renowned Class J 4-8-4 passenger locomotives was completely designed and built in Roanoke. By the mid 1930s, Norfolk and Western was facing heavier passenger traffic due to increased military . . . — Map (db m15345) HM
Above you is the Market Square Walkway, built to connect the Hotel Roanoke with downtown Roanoke, crossing the railroad in safety and comfort. There are two observation platforms to watch rail traffic here. In addition, a number of informative signs . . . — Map (db m15468) HM
World's largest man-made star. Erected in 1949 as a symbol of the progressive spirit of Roanoke, Star City of the South.
Height of steel structure - 100 ft.
Height of star - 88 1/2 ft.
Weight of star - 10,000 lbs.
Weight of steel . . . — Map (db m30336) HM