The first pioneers explored the Roanoke Valley region as early as the 17th century. An exploration party’s report in 1671 told of the “blue mountains and a snug flat valley beside the upper Roanoke River.” As tradesmen and farmers moved into the region, new counties and communities were established.
Towns formed within what is now the City of Roanoke in the first decades of the 19th Century. A geographic location, west of the Blue Ridge Mountains and midway of the “great valley” between Maryland and Tennessee, has been the key to Roanoke’s growth. Roanoke, Virginia is located midway between New York, New York and Atlanta, Georgia on Interstate 81, 168 miles west of the state capital, Richmond, Virginia. The city is the center of one of Virginia’s largest metropolitan regions, and a hub of transportation, finance, and industry for the southwestern part of the state. The scenic beauty of the Roanoke Valley, located between the Blue Ridge and the Virginia Allegheny Highlands, makes the city a pleasant as well as an economically diverse place to live and work. The city’s position on the East Coast gives it ready access to close to two-thirds of the total population of 91,911 (2000), of the nation within a radius of 500 miles.