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Rolla is a city in Phelps Countymarker, Missourimarker, United Statesmarker, midway between the larger cities of St. Louismarker and Springfieldmarker. The population was 16,367 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Phelps Countymarker . The Rolla Micropolitan Statistical Area consists of Phelps County.

Rolla is an important center for state and federal education and research in science and technology. It is the home of the Missouri University of Science and Technologymarker, originating as the Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy in 1870 and existing as the University of Missouri–Rolla from 1964 through 2007. In addition, the US Geological Survey operates a large regional facility with various centers: the National Geospatial Technical Operations Center III, the Missouri Water Science Center, the Mid-Continent Geographic Science Center, National Spatial Data Infrastructure Partnership Office Liaisons, and the Rolla Science Information and Library Services office. The headquarters of the Mark Twain National Forest, the only United States National Forest in Missouri, is also located in Rolla.

Although private businesses are more limited, Royal Canin, a major manufacturer of dog and cat food, operates in Rolla.

In addition, this is part of the Ozark Highlands American Viticultural Area, with vineyards established first by Italian immigrants to the area.


The first European-American settlers in Phelps County arrived in the early 1800s, working as farmers and iron workers along the local rivers, such as the Meramecmarker, the Gasconade, and the Little Piney. In 1844 John Webber built the first house in what became the City of Rolla. Nine years later, railroad contractor Edmund Ward Bishop, considered to be the founder of Rolla, settled in the area. The state officially established Rolla as a town in 1858.

Two stories account for how Rolla was named. One, widely regarded as a folk legend, and acknowledged as such by the Phelps County Historical Society, comes from competition with neighboring Dillon, Missouri to be designated the county seat. When Rolla was made the county seat in 1861, the residents of Dillon, having lost a round, were allowed to choose the name of the new city and named it Rolla, after a good-for-nothing hunting dog.

The more widely accepted story came from a citizens' meeting about naming the town. Webber was said to prefer the name Hardscrabble, used to describe the soils in the region, and Bishop pushed for the name Phelps Center. New settlers from North Carolinamarker voted to name the town after their hometown of Raleighmarker but chose to spell the Missouri version phonetically.

With numerous settlers from the South, many residents of Rolla leaned toward the Confederacy during the American Civil War. The town was taken by Union forces in June, 1861. They built two minor forts during their occupation, Fort Wyman and Fort Dette.

For most of its history, Rolla has served as a transportation and trading center. Rolla was the original terminus of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad, colloquially known as the "Frisco Line". Today the BNSF Railway runs directly through the town.

Rolla was a regular stop along U.S. Route 66, as it is located almost exactly halfway between the larger cities of St. Louismarker and Springfieldmarker. Today Interstate 44, U.S. Route 63, and Route 72 all run through Rolla.


Rolla is located at .

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.3 square miles (29.3 km²), of which, 11.3 sq mi (29.3 km²) of it is land and 0.09% is water.


Rolla has a mix of a humid subtropical and humid continental climate.


As of the census of 2000, there were 16,367 people, 6,514 households, and 3,543 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,448.7/sq mi (559.2/km²). There were 7,221 housing units at an average density of 639.2/sq mi (246.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 89.2% White, 2.92% African American, 0.46% Native American, 4.6% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 0.73% from other races, and 1.69% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.72% of the population.

There were 6,514 households out of which 26.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.0% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.6% were non-families. 35.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.20 and the average family size was 2.88.

In the city the population was spread out with 20.1% under the age of 18, 25.3% from 18 to 24, 25.2% from 25 to 44, 16.4% from 45 to 64, and 13.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 112.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 114.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $26,479, and the median income for a family was $38,975. Males had a median income of $31,861 versus $19,625 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,916. About 13.8% of families and 22.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.3% of those under age 18 and 13.8% of those age 65 or over.

Notable places

The old Phelps County Courthouse
Phelps County Jail

Notable people

See also Notable Missouri S&T Alumni.

See also


  1. [1], Rolla Chamber of Commerce, accessed 16 Jun 2008

External links

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