The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 19

lived Mill Mountain Incline,
forced Roanoke Gas and Water
Company to sell much of the
slope of Mill Mountain. The gas
company sold the land to the
Mill Mountain Corporation,
an entity owned by brothers
John and William Henritze.
The Henritzes' vision was
for upsca le residentia l
development at the foot of
the mountain and resort-like
amenities at the top. To this
end, the brothers set about
building a $90,000 scenic
toll road along the same
route as Booth's old carriage
road.
The toll road opened on August 30, 1924, with a
toll rate of 25 cents per car. At the time it was a marvel.
The road was reported to be the longest continuous 6%
concrete road in the world and had the defining feature
of a "loop-the-loop" where the road passed over itself.
William Henritze built his magnificent residence,
called Rockledge, along the loop road. The road was 18
feet wide with expanded widths of 30 to 40 feet at sharp
curves. By the 1930s, some 20,000 cars per year were
taking advantage of the scenic passage up Mill Mountain.
Ironically, the toll road brought about the demise of the
Mill Mountain Incline that closed in 1929.

(FACING PAGE)

Prospect Road Postcards
Postcards were quite popular
as this one published by the
Asheville Postcard Company
in the 1920s.
(LEFT)

Caption Header
The early carriage road up
Mill Mountain preceded the
concrete Prospect Road.
Image circa 1890s.
(BELOW)

Loop Road
The loop on Prospect Road
gave the road its common
usage. Image circa 1940s.

WHAT HAPPENED?

COURTESY OF THE HISTORY MUSEUM OF WESTERN VIRGINIA

The Depression brought hardship to the Henritze
brothers such that their vision of a resort atop Mill
Mountain never materialized. Facing bankruptcy, the
Henritzes were unable to sell Mill Mountain, and creditors
forced foreclosure.
The mountain was sold to investors associated with
Washington & Lee University. Offered by the investors to the
City of Roanoke without success, the mountain was bought by
Mr. and Mrs. J.B. Fishburn in 1941 and eventually donated
by them to the city for park purposes. During this time and
in the succeeding decades, the toll road was largely neglected.
In 1969, long-delayed focus was given to the toll road with an
emphasis on repairs for vehicular use. In 1971, however, the J.B.
Fishburn Parkway was completed that provided better access to the
mountain from both Roanoke City and the Blue Ridge Parkway,
replacing the toll road as a primary route to the summit.
A few years later, Roanoke planners forged a new vision for the
toll road to be a pedestrian-only route. This dovetailed better with
emerging desires to preserve and protect the slope of the mountain
as a natural asset.

SIGNIFICANCE
Today, Prospect Road is a portion of the Mill Mountain
Greenway following the same roadbed laid out almost a
TheRoanoker.com

century ago. A journey to the summit along the road leads to
the discovery of remarkably intact remnants of the original toll
road, including the Toll House constructed in 1924 with its stone
archway over the road. "The Loop" is at the mid-point, and the
switchback design has given Prospect Road its more commonlyused name of Loop Road. Some of the original stone retaining
walls and drainage structures still exist reflective of early 20th
Century masonry.
While the Henritze brothers' vision of a resort on Mill
Mountain did not happen, one could suggest their early effort to
make the mountain accessible via the toll road ultimately kept
interest and attention focused on Roanoke's most visible natural
asset. Further, their road is used by many today to enjoy Mill
Mountain in ways they may have never envisioned. I
MAY/JUNE 2018

19


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Roanoker - May/June 2018

The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - Intro
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - Cover1
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - Cover2
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 3
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 4
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 5
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 6
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 7
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 8
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 9
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The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 11
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 12
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 13
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 14
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 15
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 16
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 17
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 18
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 19
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 20
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 21
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 22
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 23
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 24
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The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 26
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The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 28
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 29
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 30
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 31
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 32
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 33
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 34
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 35
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 36
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 37
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 38
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The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 42
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The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 60
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The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 63
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The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 89
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 90
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The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 96
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 97
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 98
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 99
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 100
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 101
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The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 127
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 128
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 129
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - 130
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - Cover3
The Roanoker - May/June 2018 - Cover4
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