Just a few blocks away was a quiet residential section, with large, gracious houses. The sidewalks weren't concrete, but rather brick -- and very old brick at that.
Here's two of the residences along the street. The others were equally attractive.
From Lexington, the next major stop down Route 11 was Natural Bridge. This rock formation was surveyed by George Washington, and with the advent of the automobile and tourism, has attracted a steady stream of visitors. And as with other tourist attractions, a whole subculture of subsidiary businesses has grown up around it.
In many places along the route there are traces of these old roadside attractions. One of the best i the Pink Cadillac Diner. This is a no-nonsense old-fashioned diner with a '50's motif. We've eaten there several times, both at their old and their current location. Good thing I stood as far away as I did to get the shot below. Up close, you can see that the car is rapidly biodegrading, both inside and out.
As we approached Natural Bridge, the attractions became kitschier - - but then, if something like "Foamhenge" can get people to pull over and spend money, why mess with a winning formula? The Natural Bridge Zoo is a good example. We didn't go in, but just being in the parking lot to take the photo below as enough. Loudspeakers mounted in trees kept up a steady barrage of authentic jungle sounds.
|We passed on the tiger photo-op.|
Buchanan (which is pronounced BUCK-anan). But then we saw the footbridge.
Like Route 11 going into town, the bridge spans the James River. We took some time to cross it, and enjoy being suspended over the moving waters of the James. The original bridge pillar was constructed in the 1850's. The suspension bridge was added in the 1930's (but seemed to be reasonably sturdy).
One thing I had noticed once we started our trip. As we drove southward into the Valley, the mountains and hills became more pronounced. The road itself didn't necessarily become hillier, but steep slopes and close-by mountains fast became the norm for scenery.
|The view from main street Buchanan. That|
mountain's not far away.
|A GP9 locomotive at the Virginia|
Museum of Transportation.
We've been to Roanoke many times, and often enjoyed their thriving city market on the downtown square. But we had never been to the Virginia Museum of Transportation. Roanoke is a major hub for the Norfolk & Western Railroad, and the area around the old downtown train station is a perfect place to store and display vintage locomotives.
The museum is indeed a transportation rather than a railroad museum. There are good-sized exhibits on automobiles, buses, and one under construction for airplanes. All with the focus of transportation in the Commonwealth.
|The DC Transit PCC streetcar. Could this be one|
I rode a half century ago?
I had some mixed emotions when I saw the PCC streetcar. It was an old D.C. Transit streetcar, in serious need of repair. As with many of the museum's acquisitions, it had been rescued from the scrap pile, but nothing could be done to it until the museum could afford to restore it.
Streetcars were a common sight in Washington, DC when I was very young. They were phased out in favor of buses in 1962. My father took me on the very last ride of the very last streetcar. As I looked at this relic, I wondered if it was the same one Dad and I rode on over a half-century ago.
We made it as far as Christiansburg. When we travel Route 81, going over Christiansburg Mountain is sort of the sign that we're entering (or leaving) Southwest Virginia. The climb was even more difficult on Route 11, but we made it in time.
Christiansburg may seem like another picturesque mountain town, but its history is a little more interesting than most. The town, incorporated in 1792, was at one time the home of both Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. And according to local legend, Dr. Pepper, a local doctor is the namesake for the cola (we'll visit the birthplace of another soda tomorrow).