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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.
The native people who lived near where the city was founded did not speak Algonquian. There were also Cherokee speakers in that general area who fought with the Catawba people.
The city grew frequently through annexation through the middle of the twentieth century. The state legislature has since prohibited cities from annexing land from adjacent counties.
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.
The Norfolk & Western was famous for manufacturing steam locomotives in-house.
The mayor has little, if any, executive authority and essentially is the "first among equals" on the city council.
The mayor, however, has a bully pulpit as Roanoke media frequently cover the mayor's appearances and statements.
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 trails and roads.