Roanoke rō´ənōk [key], city (1990 pop. 96,397), independent and in no co., SW Va., on the Roanoke River; settled c.1740, inc. 1882, as a city, 1884. It is situated between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mts., at the southern end of the Shenandoah valley. A tiny village known as Big Lick until the establishment of a railroad junction there in 1882, Roanoke developed into the region's commercial, transportation, and industrial center. It contains railroad shops and factories that manufacture machinery; chemicals; metal, concrete, and plastic products; foods and beverages; fixtures; electrical equipment; and furniture. Hollins Univ. is there, and Roanoke College is nearby. The city is headquarters for the Jefferson National Forest. Of interest are transportation, science, and art museums and a planetarium.
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