History of Virginia
The History of Virginia begins with documentation by the first Spanish explorers to reach the area in the 1500s, when it was occupied chiefly by Algonquian and Siouan peoples. After a failed English attempt to colonize Virginia in the 1580s by Walter Raleigh, permanent English colonization began in Virginia with Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607; the Virginia Company colony was looking for gold but failed and the colonists could feed themselves. The famine during the harsh winter of 1609 forced the colonists to eat leather from their clothes and boots and resort to cannibalism; the colony nearly failed. It was grown on plantations, using indentured servants for the intensive hand labor involved. After 1662, the colony turned black slavery into a hereditary racial caste. By 1750, the primary cultivators of the cash crop were West African slaves. While the plantations thrived because of the high demand for tobacco, most white settlers raised their families on subsistence farms. Warfare with the Virginia Indian nations had been a factor in the 17th century.
The westernmost counties including Wise and Washington only became safe with the death of Bob Benge in 1794. The Virginia Colony became the wealthiest and most populated British colony in North America, with an elected General Assembly; the colony was dominated by rich planters who were in control of the established Anglican Church. Baptist and Methodist preachers brought the Great Awakening, welcoming black members and leading to many evangelical and racially integrated churches. Virginia planters had a major role in gaining independence and in the development of democratic-republican ideals of the United States, they were important in the Declaration of Independence, writing the Constitutional Convention, establishing the Bill of Rights. The state of Kentucky separated from Virginia in 1792. Four of the first five presidents were Virginians: George Washington, the "Father of his country". During the first half of the 19th century, tobacco prices declined and tobacco lands lost much of their fertility.
Planters adopted mixed farming, with an emphasis on livestock, which required less labor. The Constitutions of 1830 and 1850 expanded suffrage but did not equalize white male apportionment statewide; the population grew from 700,000 in 1790, to 1 million in 1830, to 1.2 million in 1860. Virginia was the largest state joining the Confederate States of America in 1861, it became the major theater of war in the American Civil War. Unionists in western Virginia created the separate state of West Virginia. Virginia's economy was devastated in the war and disrupted in Reconstruction, when it was administered as Military District Number One; the first signs of recovery were seen in tobacco cultivation and the related cigarette industry, followed by coal mining and increasing industrialization. In 1883, conservative white Democrats regained power in the state government, ending Reconstruction and implementing Jim Crow laws; the 1902 Constitution limited the number of white voters below 19th-century levels and disfranchised blacks until federal civil rights legislation of the mid-1960s.
From the 1920s to the 1960s, the state was dominated by the Byrd Organization, with dominance by rural counties aligned in a Democratic party machine, but their hold was broken over their failed Massive Resistance to school integration. After World War II, the state's economy thrived, with urban base. A statewide community college system was developed; the first U. S. African-American governor since Reconstruction was Virginia's Douglas Wilder in 1990. Since the late 20th century, the contemporary economy has become more diversified in high-tech industries and defense-related businesses. Virginia's changing demography makes for divided voting in national elections but it is still conservative in state politics. For thousands of years before the arrival of the English, various societies of indigenous peoples inhabited the portion of the New World designated by the English as "Virginia". Archaeological and historical research by anthropologist Helen C. Rountree and others has established 3,000 years of settlement in much of the Tidewater.
So, a historical marker dedicated in 2015 states that recent archaeological work at Pocahontas Island has revealed prehistoric habitation dating to about 6500 BCE. As of the 16th Century, what is now the state of Virginia was occupied by three main culture groups: the Iroquoian, the Eastern Siouan and the Algonquian; the tip of the Delmarva Peninsula south of the Indian River was controlled by the Algonquian Nanticoke. Meanwhile, the Tidewater region along the Chesapeake Bay coastline appears to have been controlled by the Algonquian Piscataway, the Powhatan and Chowanoke, or Roanoke. Inland of them were two Iroquoian tribes known as the Nottoway, or Managog, the Meherrin; the rest of Virginia was entirely Eastern Sioux, divided between the Monaghan and the Manahoac, who held lands from central West Virginia, through southern Virginia and up to the Maryland border. The lands peoples connected to the Mississippian Culture may have just crossed over into the state into its southwestern corner.
These tribes merged to form the Yuchi. AlgonquianRoun
William Mahone was an American civil engineer, railroad executive, Confederate States Army general, Virginia politician. As a young man, Mahone was prominent in the building of Virginia's railroads; as chief engineer of the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad, he built log-foundations under the routes in the Great Dismal Swamp in southeast tidewater Virginia that are still intact today. According to local tradition, several new railroad towns were named after the novels of Sir Walter Scott, a favorite British/Scottish author of Mahone's wife Otelia. In the American Civil War, Mahone was pro-secession and served as a general in the southern Confederate States Army, he was best known for regaining the initiative at the late war siege of Petersburg, Virginia while Southern troops were in shock after a huge mine/load of black powder kegs was exploded beneath them by tunnel digging former coal miner Union Army troops resulting in the Battle of the Crater in July 1864. After the war, he returned to railroad building, merging three lines to form the important Atlantic and Ohio Railroad, headquartered in Lynchburg.
He led the Readjuster Party, a temporary state political party with a coalition of freemen blacks and populist Democrats, was elected by the commonwealth General Assembly to the U. S. Senate in 1881, his willingness to caucus with Republicans cost him some support from the white electorate, as did his tolerant treatment of African-American freemen. William Mahone was born at Brown's Ferry near Courtland in Southampton County, Virginia, to Fielding Jordan Mahone and Martha Mahone. Beginning with the immigration of his Mahone ancestors from Ireland, he was the third individual to be called "William Mahone." He did not have a middle name as shown by records including his two Bibles, Virginia Military Institute Diploma, marriage license, Confederate Army commissions. The General and Otelia's first-born son was christened William Mahone; the suffix "Jr." was added to his name in his life, during a period of similar cultural naming transitions in Virginia. The little town of Monroe was on the banks of the Nottoway River about eight miles south of the county seat at Jerusalem, a town, renamed Courtland in 1888.
The river was an important transportation artery in the years before railroads and highways served the area. Fielding Mahone owned considerable farmland; the family narrowly escaped the massacre of local whites during Nat Turner's slave rebellion in 1831. The local shift of transportation in the area was from the river to the new technology emerging with railroads in the 1830s. In 1840, when William was 14 years old, the family moved to Jerusalem, where Fielding Mahone purchased and operated a tavern known as Mahone's Tavern; as recounted by his biographer, Nelson Blake, the freckled-faced youth of Irish-American heritage gained a reputation in the small town for both "gambling and a prolific use of tobacco and profanity." Young Billy Mahone gained his primary education from a country schoolmaster but with special instruction in mathematics from his father. As a teenager, for a short time, he transported the U. S. Mail by horseback from his hometown to Hicksford, a small town on the south bank of the Meherrin River in Greensville County which combined with the town of Belfield on the north bank to form the current independent city of Emporia.
He was awarded a spot as a state cadet at the opened Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia. Studying under VMI Commandant William Gilham, he graduated with a degree as a civil engineer in the Class of 1847. Mahone worked as a teacher at Rappahannock Academy in Caroline County, beginning in 1848, but was seeking an entry into civil engineering, he did some work helping locate the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, an 88-mile line between Gordonsville and the City of Alexandria. Having performed well with the new railroad, was hired to build a plank road between Fredericksburg and Gordonsville. On April 12, 1853, he was hired by Dr. Francis Mallory of Norfolk, as chief engineer to build the new Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad. William Mahone, chief Engineer, advertised for contractors who would regrade the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad for 62 miles from the Warwick Swamp to Norfolk in 1853. Mahone's innovative 12 mile-long roadbed through the Great Dismal Swamp between South Norfolk and Suffolk employed a log foundation laid at right angles beneath the surface of the swamp.
Still in use over 160 years Mahone's corduroy design withstands the immense tonnages of modern coal trains. He was responsible for engineering and building the famous 52 mile-long tangent track between Suffolk and Petersburg. With no curves, it is a major artery of modern Norfolk Southern rail traffic. In 1854, Mahone surveyed and laid out with streets and lots of Ocean View City, a new resort town fronting on the Chesapeake Bay in Norfolk County. With the advent of electric streetcars in the late 19th century, an amusement park was developed there and a boardwalk was built along the adjacent beach area. Most of Mahone's street plan is still in use in the 21st century as Ocean View, now a section of the City of Norfolk, is redeveloped. Mahome was a surveyor for the Norfolk and South Air Line Railroad, on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. On February 8, 1855, Mahone married Otelia Butler, the daughter of the late Dr. Robert Butler from Smithfield, State Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Virginia from 1846 until his death in 1853.
Her mother was Butler's second wife, Otelia Voinard Butler from Petersburg
History of slavery in Virginia
Slavery in Virginia dates to 1619, soon after the founding of Virginia as an English colony by the London Virginia Company. The company established a headright system to encourage colonists to transport indentured servants to the colony for labor. Africans first appeared in Virginia in 1619, brought by English privateers from a Spanish slave ship they had intercepted; some laws regarding slavery of Africans were passed in the seventeenth century and codified into Virginia's first slave code in 1705. Among laws affecting slaves was one of 1662, which said that children born in the colony would take the social status of their mothers, regardless of who their fathers were; this was in contrast to English common law of the time, resulted in generation after generation of enslaved persons, including mixed-race children and adults, some of whom were majority white. Among the most notable were Sally Hemings and her siblings, fathered by planter John Wayles, her four surviving children by Thomas Jefferson.
By 1650, there were about 300 Africans living in Virginia, about 1% of an estimated 30,000 population of people of English and European ancestry. They were not slaves but worked as indentured laborers, as did the 4000 white indentured servants working out their loans for passage money to Virginia. Many Africans had earned their freedom, they were each granted 50 acres of land when freed from their indentures, so they could raise their own tobacco or other crops. Although at a disadvantage in that they had to pay to have their newly acquired land surveyed in order to patent it, white indentured servants found themselves in the same predicament; some black indentured servants bought land after gaining freedom. Anthony Johnson was an African who settled on land on the Eastern Shore following the end of indenture bought African slaves as laborers. George Dillard, a white indentured servant who settled in New Kent County after his servitude ended, held at least 79 acres of his own land and married, despite a dearth of women in the colonies at that time.
Nicholas Ferrar wrote a contemporaneous text Sir Thomas Smith's Misgovernment of the Virginia Company. Here he alleges that Smith and his son-in-law, Robert Johnson, were running a company within a company to skim off the profits from the shareholders, he alleged that Dr. John Woodall had bought some Polish settlers as slaves, selling them to Lord de La Warr, he claimed that Smith was trying to reduce other colonists to slavery by extending their period of indenture indefinitely beyond the seventh year. Though the history of blacks in Virginia begins in 1619, the transition of status from indentured servant to lifelong slave was a gradual process; some historians believe that some of the first blacks who arrived in Virginia were slaves, while others say they were taken into the colony as indentured servants. Historians believe slavery in the English colonies in North America did not begin as an institution until the 1660s. Early cases show differences in treatment between European indentured servants.
In 1640, the General Virginia Court decided the Emmanuel case. Emmanuel was a Negro indentured servant who participated in a plot to escape along with six white servants. Together, they stole corn and shot guns but were caught before making their escape; the members of the group were each convicted. Christopher Miller, the leader of the group, was sentenced to wear shackles for one year. White servant John Williams was sentenced to serve the colony for an extra seven years. Peter Willcocke was branded and was required to serve the colony for an additional seven years. Richard Cookson was required to serve for two additional years. Emmanuel, the Negro, was branded with an "R" on his cheek. All of the white servants had their terms of servitude increased by some extent, but the court did not extend Emmanuel's time of service. Many historians speculate Emmanuel was a servant for life. While Emmanuel's status is not defined in the records, his being branded shows a difference in how white servants and black servants were treated.
Though this case suggests that slavery existed, the distinction of lifetime servitude or slavery associated with Africans or people of African descent was not widespread until later. That same year, 1640, "the first definite indication of outright enslavement appears in Virginia." John Punch, a Negro indentured servant, escaped from his master, Hugh Gwyn, along with two white servants. Hugh Gwyn petitioned the courts, the three servants were captured and sentenced; the white servants had their indentured contracts extended by four years, but the courts gave John Punch a much harsher sentence. The courts decided that "the third being a negro named John Punch shall serve his said master or his assigns for the time of his natural life here or else where." This is considered the earliest legal documentation of slavery in Virginia. It marked racial disparity in the treatment of black servants and their white counterparts, but the beginning of Virginian courts reducing Negros from a condition of indentured servitude to slavery.
Leon Higginbotham believes the case is evidence that the colony was developing a policy to force Negro laborers to serve terms of life servitude. In other cases, masters refused to acknowledge the expiration of indentured contracts of blacks, most of whom were illiterate in English. Anthony Johnson was claimed to have held John Casor, past his term. Johnson was brought to Jamestown in 1621 aboard the James as an indentured servant. By 1623, the Angola
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. It is the center of the Greater Richmond Region. Richmond was incorporated in 1742 and has been an independent city since 1871; as of the 2010 census, the city's population was 204,214. The Richmond Metropolitan Area has a population of 1,260,029, the third-most populous metro in the state. Richmond is located at the fall line of the James River, 44 miles west of Williamsburg, 66 miles east of Charlottesville, 100 miles east of Lynchburg and 90 miles south of Washington, D. C. Surrounded by Henrico and Chesterfield counties, the city is located at the intersections of Interstate 95 and Interstate 64, encircled by Interstate 295, Virginia State Route 150 and Virginia State Route 288. Major suburbs include Midlothian to the southwest, Chesterfield to the south, Varina to the southeast, Sandston to the east, Glen Allen to the north and west, Short Pump to the west and Mechanicsville to the northeast; the site of Richmond had been an important village of the Powhatan Confederacy, was settled by English colonists from Jamestown in 1609, in 1610–1611.
The present city of Richmond was founded in 1737. It became Dominion of Virginia in 1780, replacing Williamsburg. During the Revolutionary War period, several notable events occurred in the city, including Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death" speech in 1775 at St. John's Church, the passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom written by Thomas Jefferson. During the American Civil War, Richmond served as the second and permanent capital of the Confederate States of America; the city entered the 20th century with one of the world's first successful electric streetcar systems. The Jackson Ward neighborhood is a national hub of African-American culture. Richmond's economy is driven by law and government, with federal and local governmental agencies, as well as notable legal and banking firms, located in the downtown area; the city is home to both the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, one of 13 United States courts of appeals, the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, one of 12 Federal Reserve Banks.
Dominion Energy and WestRock, Fortune 500 companies, are headquartered in the city, with others in the metropolitan area. After the first permanent English-speaking settlement was established in April 1607, at Jamestown, Captain Christopher Newport led explorers northwest up the James River, to an area, inhabited by Powhatan Native Americans; the earliest European settlement in the Central Virginia area was in 1611 at Henricus, where the Falling Creek empties into the James River. In 1619, early Virginia Company settlers struggling to establish viable moneymaking industries established the Falling Creek Ironworks. After decades of territorial conflicts with native tribes, the Falls of the James became more to white settlement in the late 1600s and early 1700s. In 1737, planter William Byrd II commissioned Major William Mayo to lay out the original town grid. Byrd named the city "Richmond" after the English town of Richmond near London, because the view of the James River was strikingly similar to the view of the River Thames from Richmond Hill in England, where he had spent time during his youth.
The settlement was laid out in April 1737, was incorporated as a town in 1742. In 1775, Patrick Henry delivered his famous "Give me Liberty or Give me Death" speech in St. John's Church in Richmond, crucial for deciding Virginia's participation in the First Continental Congress and setting the course for revolution and independence. On April 18, 1780, the state capital was moved from the colonial capital of Williamsburg to Richmond, to provide a more centralized location for Virginia's increasing westerly population, as well as to isolate the capital from British attack; the latter motive proved to be in vain, in 1781, under the command of Benedict Arnold, Richmond was burned by British troops, causing Governor Thomas Jefferson to flee as the Virginia militia, led by Sampson Mathews, defended the city. Richmond recovered from the war, by 1782 was once again a thriving city. In 1786, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was passed at the temporary capitol in Richmond, providing the basis for the separation of church and state, a key element in the development of the freedom of religion in the United States.
A permanent home for the new government, the Greek Revival style of the Virginia State Capitol building, was designed by Thomas Jefferson with the assistance of Charles-Louis Clérisseau, was completed in 1788. After the American Revolutionary War, Richmond emerged as an important industrial center. To facilitate the transfer of cargo from the flat-bottomed James River bateaux above the fall line to the ocean-faring ships below, an enterprising George Washington helped design the James River and Kanawha Canal from Westham east to Richmond, in the 18th century to bypass Richmond's rapids on the upper James River with the intent of providing a water route across the Appalachian Mountains to the Kanawha River flowing westward into the Ohio eventually to the Mississippi River; the legacy of the canal boatmen is represented by the figure in the center of the city flag. As a result of this and ample access to hydropower due to the falls, Richmond became home to some of the largest manufacturing facilities in the country, including iron works and flour mills, the largest facilities of their kind in The South.
The resistance to the s
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. Tracing its heritage back to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison's Democratic-Republican Party, the modern-day Democratic Party was founded around 1828 by supporters of Andrew Jackson, making it the world's oldest active political party; the Democrats' dominant worldview was once social conservatism and economic liberalism, while populism was its leading characteristic in the rural South. In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt ran as a third-party candidate in the Progressive Party, beginning a switch of political platforms between the Democratic and Republican Party over the coming decades, leading to Woodrow Wilson being elected as the first fiscally progressive Democrat. Since Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal coalition in the 1930s, the Democratic Party has promoted a social liberal platform, supporting social justice. Well into the 20th century, the party had conservative pro-business and Southern conservative-populist anti-business wings.
The New Deal Coalition of 1932–1964 attracted strong support from voters of recent European extraction—many of whom were Catholics based in the cities. After Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal of the 1930s, the pro-business wing withered outside the South. After the racial turmoil of the 1960s, most Southern whites and many Northern Catholics moved into the Republican Party at the presidential level; the once-powerful labor union element became less supportive after the 1970s. White Evangelicals and Southerners became Republican at the state and local level since the 1990s. People living in metropolitan areas, women and gender minorities, college graduates, racial and ethnic minorities in the United States, such as Jewish Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, Arab Americans and African Americans, tend to support the Democratic Party much more than they support the rival Republican Party; the Democratic Party's philosophy of modern liberalism advocates social and economic equality, along with the welfare state.
It seeks to provide government regulation in the economy. These interventions, such as the introduction of social programs, support for labor unions, affordable college tuitions, moves toward universal health care and equal opportunity, consumer protection and environmental protection form the core of the party's economic policy. Fifteen Democrats have served as President of the United States; the first was President Andrew Jackson, the seventh president and served from 1829 to 1837. The most recent was President Barack Obama, the 44th president and held office from 2009 to 2017. Following the 2018 midterm elections, the Democrats held a majority in the House of Representatives, "trifectas" in 14 states, the mayoralty of numerous major American cities, such as Boston, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Portland and Washington, D. C. Twenty-three state governors were Democrats, the Party was the minority party in the Senate and in most state legislatures; as of March 2019, four of the nine Justices of the Supreme Court had been appointed by Democratic presidents.
Democratic Party officials trace its origins to the inspiration of the Democratic-Republican Party, founded by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and other influential opponents of the Federalists in 1792. That party inspired the Whigs and modern Republicans. Organizationally, the modern Democratic Party arose in the 1830s with the election of Andrew Jackson. Since the nomination of William Jennings Bryan in 1896, the party has positioned itself to the left of the Republican Party on economic issues, they have been more liberal on civil rights issues since 1948. On foreign policy, both parties have changed position several times; the Democratic Party evolved from the Jeffersonian Republican or Democratic-Republican Party organized by Jefferson and Madison in opposition to the Federalist Party of Alexander Hamilton and John Adams. The party favored republicanism; the Democratic-Republican Party came to power in the election of 1800. After the War of 1812, the Federalists disappeared and the only national political party left was the Democratic-Republicans.
The era of one-party rule in the United States, known as the Era of Good Feelings, lasted from 1816 until the early 1830s, when the Whig Party became a national political group to rival the Democratic-Republicans. However, the Democratic-Republican Party still had its own internal factions, they split over the choice of a successor to President James Monroe and the party faction that supported many of the old Jeffersonian principles, led by Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren, became the modern Democratic Party. As Norton explains the transformation in 1828: Jacksonians believed the people's will had prevailed. Through a lavishly financed coalition of state parties, political leaders, newspaper editors, a popular movement had elected the president; the Democrats became the nation's first well-organized national party and tight party organization became the hallmark of nineteenth-century American politics. Opposing factions led by Henry Clay helped form the Whig Party; the Democratic Party had a small yet decisive advantage over the Whigs until the 1850s, when the Whigs fell apart over the issue of slavery.
In 1854, angry with the Kansas–Nebraska Act, anti-slavery Dem
1988 United States presidential election in Virginia
The 1988 United States presidential election in Virginia took place on November 8, 1988. All fifty states and the District of Columbia, were part of the 1988 United States presidential election. Virginia voters chose twelve electors to the Electoral College, which selected the president and vice president. Virginia was won by incumbent United States Vice President George H. W. Bush of Texas, running against Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis. Bush ran with Indiana Senator Dan Quayle as Vice President, Dukakis ran with Texas Senator Lloyd Bentsen. Virginia weighed in for this election as 13 percentage points more Republican than the national average; the presidential election of 1988 was a partisan election for Virginia, with over 98 percent of the electorate voting for either the Democratic or Republican parties, only four candidates on the ballot. Most counties in Virginia turned out for Bush, including the populated regions of Virginia Beach and Fairfax County; as of the 2016 presidential election, this is the last election in which Northampton County and the independent cities of Martinsville and Hampton voted for a Republican presidential candidate.
Bush won the election in Virginia with a solid 20 point sweep-out landslide. This is the first election where Virginia voted reliably in block with the states of the Deep South during presidential elections - a trend which would continue for nearly 20 years; the election results in Virginia are reflective of a nationwide reconsolidation of base for the Republican Party, which took place through the 1980s. Through the passage of some controversial economic programs, spearheaded by President Ronald Reagan, the mid-to-late 1980s saw a period of economic growth and stability; the hallmark for Reaganomics was, in part, the wide-scale deregulation of corporate interests, tax cuts for the wealthy. Dukakis ran his campaign on a liberal platform, advocated for higher economic regulation and environmental protection. Bush, ran on a campaign of continuing the social and economic policies of former President Reagan - which gained him much support with social conservatives and people living in rural areas.
Additionally, while the economic programs passed under Reagan, furthered under Bush and Clinton, may have boosted the economy for a brief period, they are criticized by many analysts as "setting the stage" for economic troubles in the United State after 2007, such as the Great Recession. Gulf War Presidency of George H. W. Bush
Roanoke is an independent city in the U. S. state of Virginia. At the 2010 census, the population was 97,032, it is located in the Roanoke Valley of the Roanoke Region of Virginia. Roanoke is the largest municipality in Southwest Virginia, is the principal municipality of the Roanoke Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had a 2010 population of 308,707, it is composed of the independent cities of Roanoke and Salem, Botetourt, Craig and Roanoke counties. Bisected by the Roanoke River, Roanoke is the commercial and cultural hub of much of Southwest Virginia and portions of Southern West Virginia; the town first called Big Lick was established in 1852 and chartered in 1874. It was named for a large outcropping of salt which drew the wildlife to the site near the Roanoke River. In 1882 it became the town of Roanoke, in 1884 it was chartered as the independent city of Roanoke; the name Roanoke is said to have originated from an Algonquian word for shell "money". The name for the river was that used by the Algonquian speakers who lived 300 miles away where the river emptied into the sea near Roanoke Island.
The native people who lived near where the city was founded did not speak Algonquian. They spoke Siouan languages and Catawban. There were Cherokee speakers in that general area who fought with the Catawba people; the city grew through annexation through the middle of the 20th century. The last annexation was in 1976; the state legislature has since prohibited cities from annexing land from adjacent counties. Roanoke's location in the Blue Ridge Mountains, in the middle of the Roanoke Valley between Maryland and Tennessee, made it the transportation hub of western Virginia and contributed to its rapid growth. During colonial times the site of Roanoke was an important hub of roads; the Great Indian Warpath which merged into the colonial Great Wagon Road, one of the most traveled roads of 18th-century America, ran from Philadelphia through the Shenandoah Valley to the future site of the City of Roanoke, where the Roanoke River passed through the Blue Ridge. The Carolina Road branched off in Cloverdale, Virginia to Boones Mill, on to the Yadkin River Valley.
The Roanoke Gap proved a useful route for immigrants to settle the Carolina Piedmont region. At Roanoke Gap, another branch of the Great Wagon Road, the Wilderness Road, continued southwest to Tennessee. In the 1850s, Big Lick became a stop on the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad which linked Lynchburg with Bristol on the Virginia-Tennessee border. After the American Civil War, William Mahone, a civil engineer and hero of the Battle of the Crater, was the driving force in the linkage of three railroads, including the V&T, across the southern tier of Virginia to form the Atlantic, Mississippi & Ohio Railroad, a new line extending from Norfolk to Bristol, Virginia in 1870. However, the Financial Panic of 1873 wrecked the AM&O's finances. After several years of operating under receiverships, Mahone's role as a railroad builder ended in 1881 when northern financial interests took control. At the foreclosure auction, the AM&O was purchased by E. W. Clark & Co. a private banking firm in Philadelphia which controlled the Shenandoah Valley Railroad under construction up the valley from Hagerstown, Maryland.
The AM&O was renamed Western Railway. Frederick J. Kimball, a civil engineer and partner in the Clark firm, headed the new line and the new Shenandoah Valley Railroad. For the junction for the Shenandoah Valley and the Norfolk and Western roads and his board of directors selected the small Virginia village called Big Lick, on the Roanoke River. Although the grateful citizens offered to rename their town "Kimball", at his suggestion, they agreed to name it Roanoke after the river; as the N&W brought people and jobs, the Town of Roanoke became an independent city in 1884. In fact, Roanoke became a city so that it earned the nickname "Magic City". Kimball's interest in geology was instrumental in the development of the Pocahontas coalfields in western Virginia and West Virginia, he pushed N&W lines through the wilds of West Virginia, north to Columbus and Cincinnati, south to Durham, North Carolina, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. This gave the railroad the route structure; the Virginian Railway, an engineering marvel of its day, was conceived and built by William Nelson Page and Henry Huttleston Rogers.
Following the Roanoke River, the VGN was built through the City of Roanoke early in the 20th century. It merged with the N&W in 1959; the opening of the coalfields made N&W Pocahontas bituminous coal world-famous. Transported by the N&W and neighboring Virginian Railway, local coal-fueled half the world's navies. Today it stokes steel mills and power plants all over the globe; the Norfolk & Western was famous for manufacturing steam locomotives in-house. It was N&W's Roanoke Shops that made the company known industry-wide for its excellence in steam power; the Roanoke Shops, with its workforce of thousands, is where the famed classes A, J, Y6 locomotives were designed and maintained. New steam locomotives were built there until 1953, long after diesel-electric had emerged as the motive power of choice for most North American railroads. About 1960, N&W was the last major railroad in the United States to convert from steam to diesel power; the presence of the railroad made Roanoke attractive to manufacturers.
American Viscose opened a large rayon plant in Southeast Roanoke in October 1917. This plant closed in 1958; when N&W converted to diesel, 2,000 railroad workers were laid off. Roanoke has a weak mayor-city manager form of government; the city