Roanoke River

Roanoke River

The Roanoke River is a river in southern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina in the United States, 410 mi (660 km) long. [] A major river of the southeastern United States, it drains a largely rural area of the coastal plain from the eastern edge of the Appalachian Mountains southeast across the Piedmont to Albemarle Sound. An important river throughout the history of the United States, it was the site of early settlement in the Virginia Colony and the Carolina Colony. Part of its upper course in Virginia between the City of Roanoke and Clarksville is also known as the Staunton River. It is impounded along much of its middle course to form a chain of reservoirs.


The river has its headwaters in the Blue Ridge Mountains in southwestern Virginia at Lafayette in Montgomery County where the North Fork and South Fork of the river merge. The North Fork, approximately 30 mi (50 km) long, rises between two mountain ridges and flows initially southwest, then loops back to the northeast. The South Fork, approximately 20 mi (30 km) long, rises in several streams in the mountains on the border of Floyd, Roanoke, and Montgomery counties and flows generally north, joining the North Fork from the south.

The combined stream flows northeast between mountain ridges, approximately 10 mi (15 km) to Salem, then east through the city of Roanoke, emerging from a gorge in the Blue Ridge Mountains southeast of Roanoke and forming the boundary between Franklin and Bedford counties. The river flows generally east-southeast across the Piedmont of southern Virginia and enters northeastern North Carolina, passing north of Roanoke Rapids. The river then flows southeast in a zigzag course across the coastal plain and then briefly turns north as it enters Batchelor Bay on the western end Albemarle Sound.

The river is impounded twice in succession in the Piedmont of southwestern Virginia downstream from Roanoke to form the Smith Mountain Lake and Leesville Lake reservoirs. Farther downstream in southern Mecklenburg County along the North Carolina border, the river is impounded to form the expansive Kerr Lake. In northeastern North Carolina, 3 mi (5 km) west of Roanoke Rapids, the river is impounded to form the Lake Gaston reservoir, which stretches upstream into Virginia to the John H. Kerr Dam.


The Roanoke River was the homeland of various Native American tribes such as the Ocaneechi (today part of the Haliwa-Saponi). The deadly spring floods earned it the name "River of Death". [] The river's lower course began to be settled by Virginians about the middle of the 17th century, in what was known as the Albemarle Settlements. The upper reaches of the Roanoke River were explored by fur trading parties sent by Abraham Wood in the late 17th century.

The name "Roanoke" is said to have originated from an Algonquian word for shell "money". [] In 1883, the small town of Big Lick on the river was selected as a major shops and terminal point for the new Norfolk and Western Railway to meet the Shenandoah Valley Railroad. Big Lick was renamed Roanoke for the river that bisected it, as the surrounding Roanoke County had been in 1838. []

ee also

*List of North Carolina rivers
*List of Virginia rivers
*Bacon's Rebellion
*Roanoke Island

External links

* []
* [ Roanoke River Basin Association]
* [ Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Roanoke River — Karte des Einzugsgebietes des Roanoke River Daten …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Roanoke River — River, southern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina, U.S. Formed by the confluence of forks in West Virginia, it flows southeast for 380 mi (612 km) into Albemarle Sound on the Atlantic coast of North Carolina. Just north of the… …   Universalium

  • Roanoke River — …   Useful english dictionary

  • Miles Creek (Roanoke River) — Miles Creek Gewässerkennzahl US: 1470460 Lage Mecklenburg County, Virginia, USA Flusssystem …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Roanoke (riviere) — Roanoke (fleuve) Pour les articles homonymes, voir Roanoke. Roanoke ((en) Roanoke river) …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Roanoke (rivière) — Roanoke (fleuve) Pour les articles homonymes, voir Roanoke. Roanoke ((en) Roanoke river) …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Roanoke (Virginia) — Roanoke Spitzname: The Star City Roanoke bei Nacht (2003) Lage in Virginia …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Roanoke — may refer to:*Roanoke Colony, the first English colony in the Americas *Roanoke Island, location of the Roanoke colony in present day North Carolina *Roanoke River, flowing through Virginia and North Carolina and emptying into Albemarle Sound… …   Wikipedia

  • Roanoke — ist der Name für die „verlorene“ Roanoke (Kolonie) an der Mündung des Roanoke Rivers (siehe auch Roanoke Island) einen Fluss, siehe Roanoke River das Roanoke Valley die Old Time Gruppe Roanoke Jug Band einen nordamerikanischen Volksstamm, siehe… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Roanoke —   [ rəʊənəʊk], Name von geographischen Objekten:    1) Roanoke, Stadt in Südwestvirginia, USA, am Durchbruch des Roanoke River durch die Blaue Kette, 96 500 Einwohner; Textil , Metallwaren , Elektroindustrie; Fremdenverkehr.    2) Roanoke Island… …   Universal-Lexikon