Roanoke Virginia is a place I fondly return to, having called it home for 20 years. Here’s a black-and-white trip through just a few of the things I love about the Star City.
Driving home from Richmond to Roanoke, Virginia, I travel over green hills and around winding curves listening to Fleet Foxes on the stereo. Roanoke was settled as Big Lick; I recall this from an elementary school class, and my mind wanders to the woods and the animals therein that were drawn to the salty banks of the river. I take the less traveled road US-460 W three or four times a year and don’t mind the scenic drive, past Lynchburg, and then down into the Roanoke Valley where I’m greeted with a familiar site: The Roanoke Star, which shines brightly atop Mill Mountain nightly, a welcome beacon home.
It offers much potential, and perhaps a location of all it’s own, as I have spent nights up here bundled in coats with my dear friend Kim, gazing across the twinkling Roanoke lights, drinking wine and hot cider.
Roanoke is where photography began for me. A summer return, I took a photo 101 course to occupy my time and spent my days outside shooting Ilford and my evenings in the darkroom printing.
My photo 101 teacher was the coordinator of the O. Winston Link Museum located in downtown Roanoke. The Norfolk and Western Railway, the line that was the hub of Roanoke, is featured heavily in his work.
Also in downtown Roanoke, you can find the Taubman Museum of Art, designed by LA architect Randall Stout, jutting out from the concrete like the mountains that surround the city.
But what I identify with the most is the trees, the seasons constantly sweeping through their branches. I wish to shoot more color of the trees this autumn, but I find myself visiting the forests mostly in the dead of winter, armed with more Ilford or Silver Tone, the black trees stark against the white, heavy, snow-filled sky. Where is there more art and history than amongst the woods? I found this magnificent fortress one hike through Fishburn Park.