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Downtown Roanoke is the center of the city with interstate 581 serving as the quickest way for tourists to arrive. The town first know as Big Lick was founded in 1852- it was named for a large outcropping of salt rock that encourage wildlife to visit the site near the Roanoke River. In 1881, the Shenandoah Valley Railroad selected Big Lick to be its most southern stop point. Big Licks grateful citizens offered to rename their town after Frederick Kimball a partner in the Shenandoah Valley Railroad who selected the town as the Railroads end point. However, Frederick Kimball suggested the name Roanoke, after the nearby river. The town of Roanoke grew so fast because the Railroad drew large numbers of people and jobs, it became known as the “Magic City”.
The modern city is comprised of 49 neighborhoods in a total area of 42.9 square miles.
The Roanoke Star
Feeding Koi at City Center
One of the most stunning 270- panoramic view of Roanoke’s surrounding valley and mountain is a mountain ledge called McAfee Knob. A 4.4 mile, white-blazed trail makes a slow ascent to the Knob for a pleasurably easy day outing for families or group of friends. This is a very popular hike that is especially crowded with hikers on the weekends so those that want more privacy may want to go during the week.
Within city limits, is Mill Mountain, 568 acres, a popular regional park attracting both locals and tourists. It boasts several amenities, such as:
Two Mountain Overlooks one which overlooks Roanoke City.
10 miles of Multi-Use Trails for mountain biking, hiking, riders on horseback and trail running and before setting out on a trail you will be able to view information about the trail’s distance, elevation gain, usage and difficulty.
Discovery Center features a large spectacular wildflower garden, interactive educational exhibits, directed educational programs and smaller critters that thrive in the region.
Mill Mountain Zoo focuses on species that are native to Appalachia and the Blue Ridge Mountains, such as Black bear, Bald Eagles, Bobcat and North American river otters.
Roanoke Star sits at the top of Mill Mountain overlooking Roanoke City. In 1949, the Roanoke Merchants Association started that year’s Christmas by having a neon star built to encourage visits to the city. The Star is 88.5 feet tall with 2,000 feet of neon tubing. It requires 17,500 watts of power to illuminate the neon tubes. It can be readily seen from a distance of 60 miles. Mill Mountain’s summit is 1,740 feet above sea level.
Campbell Avenue Complex, also know as the Trinkle Buildings is a historic commercial block encompassing 5 building constructed between 1892 and 1909. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.
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