Roanoke River

From Academic Kids

The Roanoke River is a river in southern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina in the United States, approximately 410 mi (660 km) long. A major river of the southeastern United States, it drains a largely rural area of the coastal plain from the eastern edge of the Appalachian Mountains southeast across the Piedmont to Albemarle Sound. An important river through out the history of the United States, it was the site of early settlement in the Virginia Colony and the Carolina Colony. Part of its upper course in Virginia is also known as the Staunton River. It is impounded along much of its middle course to form a chain of reservoirs.


It is formed in the Blue Ridge Mountains in southwestern Virginia at Lafayette in Montgomery County by the union of its North Fork and South Fork. The North Fork, approximately 30 mi (48 km) long, rises between two mountain ridges and flows initially southwest, then loops back to the northeast. The South Fork, approximately 20 mi (32 km) long, rises in several streams in the mountains on the border of Floyd, Roanoke, and Montgomery counties and flows generally north, joining the North Fork from the south.

The combined stream flows northeast between mountain ridges, approximately 10 mi (16 km) to Salem, then east through the city of Roanoke, emerging from the Blue Ridge Mountains southeast of Roanoke and forming the boundary between Franklin and Bedford counties. It flows generally ESE across the Piedmont country of southern Virginia then enters northeastern North Carolina, passing north of Roanoke Rapids. It flows SE in a zigzag course across the coastal plain, then turns briefly north to enter Batchelor Bay on the western end Albemarle Sound from the south.

It is impounded twice in succession in the Piedmont country of southwestern Virginia downstream from Roanoke to form the consecutive reservoirs, South Mountain Lake and Leesville Lake. In south central Virginia, in southern Mecklenburg County along the North Carolina border, it is impounded to form the expansive John H. Kerr Reservoir. In northwestern North Carolina, approximately 3 mi (5 km) east of Roanoke Rapids, it is impounded to form the Lake Gaston reservoir which stretches upstream into Virginia to the John H. Kerr Dam.

See also

Correction: South Mountain Lake is actually Smith Mountain Lake


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