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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Roanoke, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Commerce or Second Street Crossing

 
 
Commerce or Second Street Crossing Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, April 24, 2021
1. Commerce or Second Street Crossing Marker
Inscription.  
2nd Street (earlier known as Commerce Street) crossed the railroad at an angle. This was the main street of the town of Big Lick. Facing the tracks, east is to your right, west to your left; you are looking north.

A busy section of the railroad, this made for a hazardous crossing. A gate watchmen's tower (see photo at right) stood on the northwest corner. A watchman kept a close eye on traffic, and would climb down the ladder to raise or lower crossing gates. Eventually, these gates became electrically controlled, triggered by a circuit within the track, eliminating the operator. These watchmen were frequently employees who had been injured and no loner able to perform their original jobs.

On the northeast corner stood the original Big Lick depot. When the first train arrived in Big Lick on November 1, 1852, there was apparently no station. A small wooden structure was built in the Spring of 1853 and functioned as the first station. Sometime after the War Between the States, the Atlantic, Mississippi and Ohio, built a combination freight and passenger depot (see Ma Meadows at bottom). About 1881, a large brick depot replaced

Commerce or Second Street Crossing Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, April 24, 2021
2. Commerce or Second Street Crossing Marker
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the wooden structure.

When Big Lick became Roanoke in 1882, the new passenger station was constructed closer to Hotel Roanoke, to the east, and the center of town moved towards the present downtown traffic area. This is a busy rail traffic area, which was bridged over by Gainsboro Road Bridge. The brick station, long unused, survived just past 100 years before falling to the wrecking ball.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceRoads & Vehicles. A significant historical date for this entry is November 1, 1852.
 
Location. 37° 16.398′ N, 79° 56.655′ W. Marker is in Roanoke, Virginia. Marker is on Railside Linear Walk just north of Norfolk Avenue Southwest, on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 145 Norfolk Ave SW, Roanoke VA 24011, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Warehouse Row (within shouting distance of this marker); Today's Locomotives (within shouting distance of this marker); Virginia Museum of Transportation / Norfolk and Western Freight Station (within shouting distance of this marker); Jupiter Missile (within shouting distance of this marker); Roanoke Railway and Electric Company (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Atlantic, Mississippi and Ohio Railroad Depot (about

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400 feet away); Norfolk & Western Safety Instruction Car #418 (about 400 feet away); Graham-White Manufacturing Company (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Roanoke.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on April 30, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 29, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 37 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on April 29, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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May. 17, 2021