The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - 10

Roanoke's First Flight

S
Nelson Harris

is a former mayor of
Roanoke and author
of a dozen books
on the region's
history. He is the
minister at Heights
Community Church
in Roanoke and
a past president
of the Historical
Society of Western
Virginia.
10

MAY/JUNE 2019

OME THOUGHT IT WOULD NEVER
happen. For weeks, promoters of the Great
Roanoke Fair of 1910 had been advertising the
appearance of a Curtiss Aeroplane at the fairgrounds as a
centerpiece for Roanoke's most celebrated annual event.
The Great Roanoke Fair had started in 1902 and
occurred every fall with various exhibits, balloon rides,
excursions, horse racing and craft shows. The fair of 1910
was billed to exceed all previous ones. Some 300 horses
participated in track events, and there were exhibitions of
cattle, domestic arts, sheep, swine, poultry, farm machinery,
canned goods and needlework. The Norfolk & Western and
Virginian Railways had special trains to serve the fair for
those attending from central and southwestern Virginia.

The fair also boasted "scores of censored sideshows,"
and gambling was prohibited. There were premiums and
purses totaling $20,000 ($480,000 in today's dollars). Fair
association president James Woods, however, considered
the flight of a Curtiss Aeroplane to be the main attraction.
Arrangements for the Curtiss airship to come to
Roanoke had begun in earnest weeks before the fair
such that H.W. Sutton, a representative of Glenn Curtiss
Exhibiting Company, came to the city and met with
fair officials on September 12th. Sutton was shown the
fairground by Louis Scholz and diagrams were made
noting the terrain and surrounding mountains.
Sutton outlined for Scholz that certain accommodations
would be needed such as posts being moved, and the
TheRoanoker.com

COURTESY OF THE VIRGINIA ROOM

Roanokers had heard of aeroplanes but had never seen one fly. That changed with the Great Roanoke
Fair of 1910 and the half-mile flight of a Curtiss Aeroplane.


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The Roanoker - May/June 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Roanoker - May/June 2019

The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - Intro
The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - Cover1
The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - Cover2
The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - 3
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The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - Cover3
The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - Cover4
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