Roanoke Rapids

Roanoke Rapids

Roanoke Rapids, industrial city (1990 pop. 15,722), Halifax co., N N.C., on the Roanoke River near the Virginia line; founded 1893, inc. 1931. The city's industries include health care, paper products, lumber, transportation, vehicle parts, and printing and publishing.
Roanoke Rapids is a city in Halifax County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 16,957 at the 2000 census. It is the principal city of the Roanoke Rapids Micropolitan Statistical Area.


Roanoke Rapids is located at (36.454528, -77.654822).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.9 square miles (20.4 km²), of which, 7.8 square miles (20.3 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.51%) is water.

It is located on the Roanoke River in North Carolina's Inner Banks at the fall line, which marks the area where an upland region (continental bedrock) and a coastal plain (coastal alluvia) meet. The fall line is typically prominent where a river crosses it, for there will usually be rapids or waterfalls. Because of these features river boats typically can not travel any further inland. Because of the need of a port, and ready supply of water power, settlements often developed where the river crosses the fall line. In fact, this river is what caused Roanoke Rapids to initially develop. Sam Patterson and other textile contractors originally built their mills along this river to promote their business in a better location than they previously had.

The most prominent example of fall line settlement was the establishment of the cities along the eastern coast of the United States where the Appalachian Rise and the coastal plains meet.

The seven mile long Roanoke Rapids Canal trail starts at the Roanoke dam and ends roughly a mile after passing the historic aqueduct. The trail is fairly narrow, which limits access only to walkers, runners, and bikers.


As of the census of 2000, there were 16,957 people, 6,909 households, and 4,594 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,163.8 people per square mile (835.1/km²). There were 7,595 housing units at an average density of 969.2/sq mi (374.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 72.03% White, 24.87% African American, 0.58% Native American, 1.42% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.50% from other races, and 0.58% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.06% of the population.

There were 6,909 households out of which 32.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.0% were married couples living together, 16.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.5% were non-families. 29.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.00.

In the city the population was spread out with 26.7% under the age of 18, 7.6% from 18 to 24, 28.1% from 25 to 44, 21.9% from 45 to 64, and 15.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 83.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 77.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,745, and the median income for a family was $40,337. Males had a median income of $31,756 versus $21,305 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,972. About 15.1% of families and 18.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.2% of those under age 18 and 16.6% of those age 65 or over.


Roanoke Rapids is known for a number of historical sites. The original Roanoke Rapids High School building or Senior building as it is sometimes referred, opened in 1921 and still in use, embodies many elements of Elizabethan Gothic and Tudor Revival architecture in its castle-like facade. It was built by industrialist Samuel Paterson and designed by renowned architect Hobart Upjohn in a modified H-design. It is the dominant building in the city's central core and is flanked by another castle like structure which formerly housed a National Guard Armory. The Roanoke Canal Museum focuses on the former shipping canal built in the 18th century and is located in a former canal lock building.

Roanoke Rapids has planned Carolina Crossroads, an entertainment district founded by Dolly Parton and her brother Randy Parton. Attractions are to include the Roanoke Rapids Theater, an outdoor amphitheater, a campground, an aquarium, and water park. A Black Widow Billiards Center was also announced by Jeanette Lee.


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