Railroad dominance, the birth of Virginia Tech, and the opening of Hotel Roanoke paved the way for the region from 1875-1900.
Photos are courtesy of The Roanoke Times archives, Associated Press, via the Lacks family and the Henrietta Lacks Foundation; Floyd County Historical Society; Historical Photograph Collection, Special Collections, University Libraries, Virginia Tech; Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce; Gregory Rosenthal, Roanoke College; Virginia Military Institute Archives; Jerry Spangler.
Norfolk & Western train
A group of men poses with a Norfolk and Western engine near the town of Roanoke in 1882.
John Trout, the first mayor of Big Lick, lived in Trout House. The house stood on the property where the Ponce de Leon Hotel stands.
Old City Jail
The old jail in Roanoke.
Old St. Andrew's Church
The first St. Andrew's Church was built in 1883 and the rectory beside it built in 1887.
South Roanoke around 1890.
Hotel Roanoke fire
Hotel Roanoke was built in 1882. In 1888, a fire that started in the hotel kitchen raged out of control, sending massive plumes of smoke into the sky over the city. As the hotel burned, scores of city residents showed up to watch.
Commerce Street School
Commerce Street School.
Heironimus and Brugh
Heironimus and Brugh was a city store.
The old Roanoke Hospital sat at the foot of Mill Mountain around the turn of the century.
In June 1892, the Roanoke Decennial Parade marched past the market building (right foreground) on Salem Avenue at Nelson Street (now First Street).
Roanoke's first baseball team
Roanoke's first baseball team, pictured here circa 1887-88, played in Virginia towns where they could find other clubs. Their opponents included several college teams, including one at the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Virginia Tech). The Roanoke team was made up of men from Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Tennessee.
A photo from 1894 shows the men who staffed the cars of the Roanoke Railway and Electric Co. In the late 1880s, the Roanoke Street Railway Co. offered public rail cars pulled by mules. One passenger said the cars were so slow, they should have had a diner attached. The mule cars soon were replaced by steam-powered trolleys, which in turn were superseded by streetcars with overhead electric lines in 1892.
According to the Historical Society of Western Virginia, George Washington visited the area near the Evans-McClanahan mill on Crystal Spring in the spring of 1754 (some sources say 1756) and noted the trip in his journals. His accounts book showed that he paid three shillings to a "widow Evans" for supplies or perhaps a night's lodging.
This photo of the fire department was taken near the present-day Jefferson Street and Kirk Avenue in Roanoke. It may have been taken the day of the 1892 Labor Day Parade.
Norfolk & Western fire
The Norfolk and Western Railway's general office building, and important papers stored inside, were destroyed by a fire on Jan. 4, 1896. In the decades immediately following the fire, the railroad put a greater emphasis on fireproofing assets, purchasing a fire truck with a water tower and building safeguards into the design of its new building.
Staff and students of the Christiansburg Institute pose on the steps of a campus building in this undated photo. The institute was established for black students in the 1870s by a Quaker named Charles Schaeffer.
Apple cider in Dublin
Men make apple cider in Dublin in 1897.
Virginia Tech building
Professor E.A. Smyth took this photo of the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College (later Virginia Tech) in 1891. Smyth noted the "station building" is on the far left.
Virginia Tech grads
The 1888 graduating class of Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College (later Virginia Tech).
Virginia Tech cadets
Cadets on parade at the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College (later Virginia Tech) about 1890.
Yellow Sulphur Springs Hotel
The Yellow Sulphur Springs Hotel was established in 1871.
Radford was all decked out for a visit from Gov. James Hoge Tyler in the late 1890s.
A few residents mill along Main Street in Blacksburg in the early 1900s.
Active bankers of Roanoke posed on the steps of the Terry Building in 1894.
Roanoke Machine Works
The first Norfolk & Western engine built in the Roanoke Shops (then Roanoke Machine Works) in 1884.
Hotel Roanoke construction
The Hotel Roanoke in 1886, just four years after the original structure was erected. At the time, the hotel boasted 38 rooms.
Jefferson Street looking south from near Railroad Avenue (now Norfolk Avenue) about 1890. The building with the turret is the Terry Building, which sat on the corner of Jefferson Street and Campbell Avenue. In the left foreground is H.C. Barnes drugstore. This photo was taken from the N&W general offices.
The Roanoke Light Infantry, a local militia, clears Campbell Avenue during the riot of Sept. 20, 1893. Later, white vigilantes lynched Thomas Smith in what is today Old Southwest Roanoke.
The Roanoke City Market Building was originally built in 1884. Here, covered wagons park in the rear of the building (the Salem Avenue side). This building was replaced in 1921 by the current structure.