This project was started in April 2018 to document and preserve the life and times of our forefathers in this part of the Appalachian Mountains called Catawba Valley.
Various stories about the families and historic places of Catawba, Virginia have been written and posted to this site. A new article is published each month, so if you are interested in reading about the life and times in Catawba, Virginia in the 1900’s then you should subscribe and follow our blog or like our Echoes From Catawba facebook page so you can be notified when a new article is published.
History of Catawba
Settlement began in Roanoke County in the mid-18th Century, with the first immigration into the Great Valley of Virginia. The earliest settlers were Scots-Irish who came south along the Great Wagon Road, through the Shenandoah Valley and into the Roanoke River Valley. The earliest settlements naturally occurred in the northern areas, including Catawba.
Roanoke County contains several smaller towns, villages, and agricultural settlements that have played an important part in its history. The earliest settlement in the present county area occurred in the Catawba Valley. A “Road up Catawba” was noted as a road or trace by 1750, and was one of the earliest routes from the James to the New River Valley. Permanent settlement of the Catawba Valley occurred largely after the French and Indian War in the 1760’s.
Catawba became a prosperous agricultural community during the antebellum period (late 1700’s until the start of the American Civil War in 1861). Farmers transported their goods by wagon to Buchanan, where they were sent down the James River. By the 1830’s, the town of Springfield had been laid out on the southern end of Catawba Valley. The Roanoke Red Sulphur Springs resort was established by Salem entrepreneurs in 1857. Catawba continued to prosper during the late 19th century, with its popular springs resort and various mining operations. In the early twentieth century, the state purchased the former springs resort and converted the building into the state’s first sanitorium. Catawba retains one of the best collections of 19th-century buildings in Roanoke County. ~Courtesy of “Historical Architecture Reconnaissance Survey Report” prepared by Frazier Associates April 1992
Present Day Catawba
Catawba is an unincorporated community in the northern section of Roanoke County, Virginia. Catawba occupies the Catawba Valley bound on the south by the north slope of Catawba Mountain and on the north by several mountains which form the border between Roanoke County and Craig County. Catawba Valley stretches about 17 1/2 miles long, between Botetourt County and Montgomery County. Catawba is a total of approximately 58 square miles.
In 2016 the population of Catawba was 1,378. Catawba is known as a rural enclave of the Roanoke Valley with its farms, pastures, rolling hills, and mountains. The Catawba Hospital, a mental health facility operated by the Commonwealth of Virginia, is near Route 311 and traces its history back to a resort established in 1857 to take advantage of the believed healing properties of a sulfur and limestone spring. The Appalachian Trail passes through the Catawba area and provides access to two notable trail landmarks, Dragon’s Tooth and McAfee Knob.