Gauss-Telegraph: World trip from home in 30 days – Roanoke, VA
by Evelyn Agren
The special features of Roanoke
My hometown is Roanoke, located in Southwest Virginia. It is in a valley of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was originally named Big Lick, which is still its nickname today, because of the salt deposits that attracted wildlife to the land. The population is relatively small, less than 100,000 people, and the atmosphere is very peaceful. A big part of the Roanoke lifestyle is the outdoor activities. There are many hiking and mountain biking trails surrounding the city, and many people do activities like running or biking. Roanoke is also the site of America’s toughest road marathon, the Blue Ridge Marathon, with an elevation change of 2264 meters. There is a festival in October called the “Go Outside Festival” where there are different types of outdoor activities and equipment demonstrations. In the fall, people drive from up and down the East Coast to see the leaves changing in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Another big part of Roanoke’s culture is the railroad. Roanoke was a “boom town,” one of the towns whose population exploded with the expansions of the railroad.
The Virginia Museum of Transportation, located in Roanoke, showcases many locomotives that were built in Roanoke. There is also a photography museum in the old passenger railway station that displays the railroad photography of O. Winston Link. In 2017 Roanoke got an Amtrak station that connects it to Washington D.C. by train. Roanoke is also famous for the world’s largest freestanding illuminated man-made star. On top of Mill Mountain, which is right next to the city, is the Roanoke Star, built in 1949. It is 27 meters tall with 609 meters of neon tubing. Currently the star is lit up white, but on some memorials or national holidays it is lit up red, white, and blue as a symbol of America. I think it is one of the most notable symbols of Roanoke because if you are driving towards Roanoke at night, you can see the star from far away on the highway.
Favorite place in the city
One of my favorite places in Roanoke is the Grandin Theatre where I worked for four years. It is a historical, non-profit movie theatre that was built in 1932. Since that time, it has had live performances and concerts, and shown indie and art-house films as well as big box office titles. The best museum in Roanoke is the Taubman Museum of Art. The new building was constructed from 2006 to 2008, designed by an architect who had previously worked for Frank Gehry. It is very modern and caused some controversy since most of Roanoke’s buildings are historical. They buried a time capsule on the site before the new construction was started, and I got to put a self portrait in the time capsule. Another fun fact about Roanoke is that an author named Beth Macy lives there. Her first book, Factory Man, was a New York Times Bestseller and HBO bought the rights to a miniseries adaptation produced by Tom Hanks.
Note: Due to the spread of the coronavirus, we don’t recommend to travel until the all restrictions have been lifted.