The Roanoke Star, also known as the Mill Mountain Star, is the World's largest freestanding illuminated man-made star, constructed in 1949 at the top of Mill Mountain in Roanoke, Virginia. It was the largest star ever assembled until the El Paso Star was completed in El Paso, Texas.
However, the Mill Mountain Star still holds the claim to world's largest illuminated man-made free-standing star, as the El Paso Star lies flat on the ground. After construction of the star, Roanoke was nicknamed "Star City of the South". It's visible for 60 miles from the air and it sits 1,045 feet above the city of Roanoke.
The Mill Mountain Star is 88.5 feet tall with 2,000 feet of neon tubing. It requires 17,500 watts of power to illuminate the neon tubes, so it puts out a pleasant little hum. Roy C. Kinsey of Kinsey Sign Company built the neon tubes with his three sons Roy Jr., Bob, and Warren. It was assembled near a local airplane hangar to study how it looked. Then it was driven to the top of the mountain and placed onto a steel structure. Robert L. Little was the Structural Engineer for Roanoke Iron & Bridge Works at the time and helped on the project as well.
Overlook And Zoo:
Directly in front of the star is an overlook that features dramatic views of the Roanoke Valley and, particularly, downtown Roanoke. The overlook is a well known place to photograph Roanoke. It is also a site where area residents take visiting friends and relatives.
A small zoo was built near the star on the summit of Mill Mountain. Mill Mountain Zoo was originally designated as strictly a children's zoo, but the number of exhibits and variety of animals has expanded. The star, overlook, and zoo are accessible both from Roanoke and from a spur of the Blue Ridge Parkway at Roanoke Mountain.
The star and the park around it are popular picnic spots by day. They are also popular hangouts at night. City police regularly patrol the area to discourage underage drinking and enforce Roanoke's curfew for minors.Mill Mountain's summit is 1,740 feet above sea level.