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Roanoke ‘Baby Star’ Comes Home to the Virginia Museum of Transportation

The restored “baby star” shines from its new permanent home.

In the same year that the Mill Mountain Star first shared its glow with the Roanoke Valley, one hundred “baby stars” were made to adorn street lamps throughout Downtown Roanoke. Decades after their disappearance, one baby star has come home to Roanoke for permanent display at the Virginia Museum of Transportation. The star was  lit in a ceremony to recognize its festive holiday heritage on December 14.

Both the big, beloved neon star on Mill Mountain and the baby neon stars were made by the Roy C. Kinsey Sign Co. for the Roanoke Merchants Association in 1949. They were all first lit on the same night—November 23, 1949—both the 100-ft. star on Mill Mountain and the 100 3-ft.stars that hung along Campbell and Church Avenues and Jefferson Street.

The baby stars were used as Christmas decorations in Roanoke through the 1960s, when 23 were sold to the Town of Floyd. The stars illuminated Floyd for the holidays for two decades, but were eventually discarded on a hillside in the 1980s. Their existence was rediscovered last year during the 60th Anniversary Celebration for the Mill Mountain Star.

The Town of Floyd very generously donated one of the stars to the Virginia Museum of Transportation to be hung in honor of a much-beloved chapter of Roanoke’s history. The star has been restored by Budget Signs and will hang in the Museum’s Advance Auto Parts Auto Gallery, to shine down once more on cars from the forties, fifties and sixties as it did during the holidays long ago.

“We are so honored and grateful to the Town of Floyd for the gift of this precious star,” said museum executive director Beverly T. Fitzpatrick, Jr. “I guess this really makes us one of Roanoke’s ‘star’ attractions, and we invite everybody to come see it!”

The Virginia Museum of Transportation is home to two of the most powerful steam locomotives in existence today—the N&W Class A 1218 and the N&W Class J 611—the Virginia Museum of Transportation regularly attracts visitors of all ages from across the U.S. and 45 foreign countries. Through exhibits, artifacts, and an outstanding collection of rail equipment, cars, trucks, airplanes, and more, the Museum tells the rich story of Virginia’s transportation history.

The Virginia Museum of Transportation is the Official Transportation Museum of the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is located in the historic N&W Freight Station at 303 Norfolk Avenue SW, Roanoke, VA 24016. Hours are Monday-Saturday 10-5 and Sunday 1-5. 540/342.5670. www.vmt.org.

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