Historical Letterhead Document - Roanoke, Virginia
Herbst & Aftorfer, Dealers In Hardware, Stoves, Tinware, and Farm Implements; from the Town of Roanoke, Virginia 1880. 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. Document Business Letterheard Leaf Unsigned, 1889 - 3 1/4 x 5 1/2 printed on red line parchment with a deep browning hue seen. Slight stains, with minor trimming and absence on parchment, hermetically sealed from elements. Overall, very good condition.
During colonial times the site of Roanoke (e.g., Big Lick) was an important hub of trails and roads. The Great Wagon Road, one of the most heavily travelled roads of eighteenth 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 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 (V&T) which linked Lynchburg with Bristol on the Virginia-Tennessee border.
After the American Civil War (1861–1865), William Mahone, a civil engineer and hero of the Battle of the Crater, was the driving force in the linkage of 3 railroads, including the V&T, across the southern tier of Virginia to form the Atlantic, Mississippi & Ohio Railroad (AM&O), 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 then under construction up the valley from Hagerstown, Maryland. The AM&O was renamed Norfolk and Western Railway (N&W).
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, Kimball 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 quickly became an independent city in 1884. In fact, Roanoke became a city so quickly that it earned the nickname "Magic City".