Sightseeing in Blacksburg

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While stationed on Long Island to conduct secret war research for the U.S. government during World War II, O. Winston Link started snapping photographs of the Long Island Railroad tracks behind his lab. Eager to capture large-scale railroad pictures at night, he built his own customized flash equipment. After the war, Link harnessed that creative curiosity by spending five years photographing the Norfolk and Western Railway, the last large steam-powered American railroad. From his 20 trips to the railway's tracks in four states, Link collected 2,400 pictures.

His work didn't garner attention until the 1980s, when he published his first collection of railroad photos in the lauded book Steam, Steel & Stars. The West Virginia Historical Society continues to preserve his legacy with the O. Winston Link Museum, which showcases Link's Norfolk and Western project while filling in its historical context. Throughout seven galleries, patrons hear the sounds of bustling locomotive engines, adjust the lighting of an interactive diorama's photograph, and ogle Link's original photographic equipment, including flashbulbs, power boxes, and super power boxes. The museum underscores its edifying galleries with a plentitude of tours, workshops, and ongoing photography programs.

101 Shenandoah Ave NE
Roanoke,
VA
US

As a center for the visual arts, we encourage a free exchange between the making of art, the display of art and the interpretation of art. Our programs endeavor to explore creativity from inspiration to presentation with the goal of engaging and intriguing our audiences.

110 Salem Ave SE
Roanoke,
VA
US

In the 1850s, the Norfolk & Western Railway made its way to Big Lick, Virginia, transforming the sleepy town into a locomotive hub of the south. The Virginia Museum of Transportation walks visitors through this industrial change with its historic steam and diesel engines, cabooses, model trains, and rail collection, which features more than 50 pieces of rolling stock, including some of the most advanced Roanoke-made steam engines ever built in the Norfolk & Western Class J-611 and Class A-1218. Railway exhibits recount the exploits of the industry’s most renowned names and provide an opportunity for visitors to hop aboard an actual diesel locomotive and complain loudly about the lack of complimentary peanuts. Additional engine-powered attractions include a century’s worth of automobiles and the recently reopened Wings Over Virginia Aviation Gallery collection.

303 Norfolk Ave SW
Roanoke,
VA
US

Rivermen's New River rafting trips guide amateurs and avid aquanauts alike through some of the most scenic whitewater rapids of New River Gorge National River. Reverential rafters can drink up hearty eyefuls of the gorge and its abundant wildlife, weathered bluffs, and recognizable bridge, as seen on the West Virginia state Pog and quarter. The upper river excursion (4–6 hours, $124) traverses canyons on relatively mild waters punctuated by a few easy rapids. Easily navigable by group raft or inflatable duck (a kayak-like vessel that holds 1–2 people), the upper trip makes an enjoyable introduction to whitewater for families, beginner to intermediate rafters, and adolescent Loch Ness monsters. The lower route (4–6 hours, $134) quickens the pulse with more than 25 rapids, as well as tranquil pools and the requisite breathtaking scenery. Both tours will stop to provide lunch.

1 Ames Heights Road
Lansing,
WV
US

A bugle boomed with a brash moan that bordered on shrill, as if the metal it was made of were on the verge of shattering like glass. Its player drew a sideward glance to his wife, whose neck was contorted in the throes of a visceral shriek as she slammed a wooden spoon against the tin washbasin. Darkness was giving way to the orange of morning on June 18, 1864, and the Union's Major General David Hunter was presumably within earshot. The clamor of Lynchburg's citizens was their first defense, making the Confederate forces sound larger and stronger than they actually were. It was a smart move, as Hunter eventually retreated because he believed he was outnumbered.

The concise Confederate victory preserved many historical sites in Lynchburg, which had been the United States’ second wealthiest city per capita before the Civil War devastated the economy. Today, the Lynchburg Museum traces the stories of the region, from the cannons and flags of the Civil War to a flight suit worn by hometown astronaut Leland Melvin. More than 20,000 artifacts are housed within the former Lynchburg courthouse, which was built in the Greek Revival style in 1855, replete with architectural details including fluted Doric columns and a pedimented portico inspired by the Parthenon.

Less than a mile away, Point of Honor accommodates guests within the re-created plantation kitchen of the restored Federal-period mansion built in 1815 by Dr. George Cabell Sr., friend to both Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson. Guests can peer out at a vista of the James River before exploring the Medicine in Early Virginia exhibit, which highlights tools and methods practiced by Dr. Cabell such as giving patients colds in order to cure their rickets.

112 Cabell St
Lynchburg,
VA
US

Old Salem Museums & Gardens whisks visitors to the cozy streets of a reconstructed 18th-century Moravian town that encompasses 100 restored and reclaimed buildings and expansive, pristine gardens. As they stroll through the 90-acre homage to early Americana, visitors can interact with hands-on activities, such as the German paper-cutting art of Scherenschnitte or the colonial tradition of libeling a governor with accusations of actually governing. Old Salem's horticultural marvels include the Miksch Garden—a living illustration of Moravian subsistence farming—and the Family Gardens of Salt Street, which demonstrate the innovative practice of seed saving. In addition to year-round attractions, special exhibits rotate through town, celebrating momentous occasions, notable people, and game-changing presidential pets. After traversing the grounds, visitors can peruse souvenirs at a number of gift shops or sidle into Winkler’s Bakery for a piece of renowned Moravian sugar cake.

900 Old Salem Rd.
Winston-Salem,
NC
US