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flag  History of Roanoke, Virginia, USA

Journey back in time to Roanoke, Virginia, USA

(Big Lick) (Gainsboro)

Visit Roanoke, Virginia, USA. Discover its history. Learn about the people who lived there through stories, old newspaper articles, pictures, postcards and ancestry.

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Roanoke, Virginia, USA - At the Fair, Roanoke, Va. (1908)

Formerly called Big Lick, the town, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, eventually was renamed Roanoke after the river that bisected it. With the arrival of the railroads in the late 1800s, the city and region became a manufacturing and transportation hub and was a gateway to the American West.

There is MUCH more to discover about Roanoke, Virginia, USA. Read on!

Roanoke Nostalgia: Vintage Photos, Ads, and Postcards

At the Fair, Roanoke, Va. (1908)
Roanoke, Virginia, USA

At the Fair, Roanoke, Va. (1908)
Jefferson Street, Looking North from Church Avenue, Roanoke, Va.
Roanoke, Virginia, USA

Jefferson Street, Looking North from Church Avenue, Roanoke, Va.
Roanoke Valley on the Line of the Norfolk & Western Railway, Virginia.
Roanoke, Virginia, USA

Roanoke Valley on the Line of the Norfolk & Western Railway, Virginia.

Discover Roanoke: History, News, Travel, and Stories

Add informationAdd History/News/Story
1852 - Big Lick is established

1854 - Big Lick / Gainsboro
Bio Lick, or Gainsboro, a small post-village of Roanoke county, Virginia, 170 miles W. by S. from Richmond. The Virginia and Tennessee railroad passes through it.
A New and Complete Gazetteer of the United States: Giving a Full and Comprehensive Review of the Present Condition, Industry, and Resources of the American Confederacy ... Thomas Baldwin (of Philadelphia.) Joseph Thomas January 1, 1854 Philadelphia : Lippincott, Grambo & Company 1854.
1874 - Big Lick is chartered

1882 - Big Lick became the town of Roanoke, and in 1884 it was chartered as the independent city of Roanoke

1889 - Henry Paine, a ten-year-old boy of Roanoke, Va., was killed on the 27th by a ball bat in the hands of a young colored companion.

St Joseph Herald
Saint Joseph, Michigan
March 30, 1889
Roanoke, Va., April 10. - The greatest tornado for many years passed over this city last evening.

The cast house at the Crozier Iron Furnace was blown down and three laborers were killed and one mortally wounded. Loss to the furnace company, $5,000. Nearly one hundred dwellings in course of erection were completely demolished. The Salem furnace was blown down, and a heavy loss is reported, and buildings in that vicinity were reduced to ruins.

The loss in city and neighborhood is $10,000.
Bradford Era
April 10, 1890
1895 - Roanoke
Roanoke, a city of Roanoke co., Va., on the Roanoke River, 258 miles by rail W. of Norfolk, at the junction of two branches of the Norfolk & Western Railroad. Roanoke is in a live-stock, tobacco-growing, and iron-mining section, and has a large and increasing trade. From a small village in 1880 it has grown to a city of importance, with churches, schools, banks, hotels, an opera-house, a court house, gas- and electric-lights, large machine-shops, canning-factories, bottle-works, a rolling-mill, a tobacco-factory, a spoke-factory, iron-works, locomotive- and car-shops, saw-mills, planing-mills, coffee- and spice-mills, &c. Three daily and 4 weekly newspapers are published here. Pop. in 1880, 669; in 1890, 16,159.
Lippincott's Gazetteer of the World: A Complete Pronouncing Gazetteer Or Geographical Dictionary of the World Containing Notices of Over One Hundred and Twenty-five Thousand Places ... Joseph Thomas January 1, 1895 J.B. Lippincott
Roanoke, Va., July 1. -- The Hotel Roanoke was destroyed by fire this afternoon.
Loss, $100,000.
The Daily Review
Decatur, Illinois
July 2, 1898
Roanoke, an independent city of Virginia, formerly in Roanoke co., on the Roanoke River and on the Norfolk and Western R., 55 miles W. by S. of Lynchburg. Roanoke is in a stock-raising, tobacco-growing and mining section, and has a large and increasing trade. From a small village in 1880 it has grown to a city of importance, with large machine-shops, bridge and iron-works, canning-factories, bottle-works, tobacco-factories, locomotive and car-shops, cotton-mills, etc. It has mineral springs in the vicinity and is a health-resort. The Virginia College and a large sanitarium are located here. Pop. in 1880, 669; in 1890, 16,159; in 1900, 21,495. Elevation, 910 feet.
Lippincott's New Gazetteer: A Complete Pronouncing Gazetteer Or Geographical Dictionary of the World, Containing the Most Recent and Authentic Information Respecting the Countries, Cities, Towns ... in Every Portion of the Globe Publisher J.B. Lippincott Company, 1906
1952 - December 10 - WSLS TV channel 10 in Roanoke, VA (NBC) begins broadcasting
2023 - Here's a list of places to go and things to do in and around Roanoke:
Mill Mountain Star and Park:

Start your visit with the iconic Mill Mountain Star, the world's largest man-made illuminated star. The park offers stunning views of the city.

Blue Ridge Parkway:

Roanoke is the gateway to the Blue Ridge Parkway, renowned for its breathtaking scenic drive. Take a leisurely drive, go hiking, or have a picnic.

Virginia Museum of Transportation:

If you're into trains, automobiles, and aviation, this museum is a must-visit. It houses an impressive collection of locomotives, vintage cars, and planes.

Taubman Museum of Art:

Explore contemporary and American art at the Taubman Museum, featuring a diverse range of exhibits and collections.

Center in the Square:

A cultural hub in downtown Roanoke, Center in the Square is home to the Science Museum of Western Virginia, Harrison Museum of African American Culture, and more.

Roanoke City Market:

Roanoke's historic market is a great place to shop for local crafts, fresh produce, and... Read MORE...

Discover MY Roots: Roanoke Ancestry

Ancestors Who Were Born or Died in Roanoke, Virginia, USA

We currently have information about 5 ancestors who were born or died in Roanoke.

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Genealogy Resources for Roanoke

Our Roanoke Gift Ideas

Buy it NOW!USA Proud Coffee Mug - 11oz Ceramic

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Updated: 10/12/2023 1:53:33 PM