The history of the Roanoke Valley during the 1940s has largely been unexplored until now. This significant decade bore witness to the birth of the local civil rights movement, the impact of World War II and the postwar boom in public projects and private development. The J-Class locomotives, Carver School, Woodrum Field, Victory Stadium, Carvins Cove, the Roanoke Star, the end of streetcars, and the advent of drive-in theaters all marked the decade. Crowds thronged to see the biggest names in radio, film and music at the American Legion Auditorium, the Academy of Music and the Roanoke Theatre, while Major League baseball and professional football brought exhibition games to Maher Field and Victory Stadium. Local historian Nelson Harris provides a detailed account of this dynamic decade along with 300 archival photographs.
Local historian Nelson Harris is a native and former mayor of Roanoke. He has been the pastor of Heights Community Church since 1999 and is an adjunct faculty member at Virginia Western Community College. He is a past president of the Historical Society of Western Virginia, a columnist for the Roanoker magazine, and has been recognized by the Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation for his research and advocacy of regional history. He is the author of fourteen books, including Downtown Roanoke, A History of Back Creek, Aviation in Roanoke and Hidden History of Roanoke.