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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.About 1960, N&W was the last major railroad in the United States to convert from steam to diesel power.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.However, the Financial Panic of 1873 wrecked the AM&O's finances.After several years of operating under receiverships, Mahone's role as a railroad builder ended in 1881 when northern financial interests took control.Bisected by the Roanoke River, Roanoke is the commercial and cultural hub of much of Southwest Virginia and portions of Southern West Virginia.The name for the river was that used by the Algonquian speakers who lived 300 miles away where the river emptied into the sea near Roanoke Island.
The city manager is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the city's government and has the authority to hire and fire city employees.Roanoke is the largest municipality in Southwest Virginia, and is the principal municipality of the Roanoke Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which had a 2010 population of 308,707.