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It was N&W's Roanoke Shops that made the company known industry-wide for its excellence in steam power.The Roanoke Shops, with its workforce of thousands, is where the famed classes A, J, and Y6 locomotives were designed, built, and maintained.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.

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".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 Great Indian Warpath which later merged into the colonial Great Wagon Road, one of the most heavily traveled 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 Carolina Road branched off in Cloverdale, Virginia to Boones Mill, Virginia, and on to the Yadkin River Valley.

At the foreclosure auction, the AM&O was purchased by E. 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). Kimball, a civil engineer and partner in the Clark firm, headed the new line and the new Shenandoah Valley Railroad.

Following the Roanoke River, the VGN was built through the City of Roanoke early in the twentieth century. The opening of the coalfields made N&W prosperous and Pocahontas bituminous coal world-famous.