Rolla (Hot Spring County)
Rolla is an unincorporated community in Hot Spring County located one mile west of Lono (Hot Spring County) and about fourteen miles south of Malvern (Hot Spring County). Founded as a stop on the Malvern and Camden Railroad, linking the county seat with Camden (Ouachita County), Rolla quickly grew into a bustling community.
Due to the proximity of Rolla to the older community of Lono, it is difficult to determine the earliest settlers in the community. The first settlers in the area arrived in the 1840s and began small-scale farming. Richard Jennett obtained eighty acres of land in the area on July 10, 1848. Later that year, Arthur Yates and John Gray both obtained land. Yates appears in the 1850 census, living on eighty acres with his wife, Polly, and their nine children. In 1859, Yates obtained another eighty acres in the area. Gray also lived on his property with his wife, Minerva, and their nine children according to the 1850 census. He also obtained more land in the area over the years, owning at least 320 acres either solely or with a partner by 1857.
The creation of Rolla as a distinct community can be traced to the construction of a rail line through the area. Part of the Malvern and Camden Railroad, it became part of the Rock Island, Arkansas and Louisiana, a subsidiary of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad, just a few years after opening.
A post office opened at Lono in 1878, but the growth of Rolla led to the removal of the office to that town by 1928. It remained in operation until 1973. By the early twentieth century, the community included a sawmill, a cotton gin, a grist mill, and five stores. A Methodist church, originally located in Lono, moved to Rolla after the railroad opened. This church was consolidated with the L’Eau Fraiz Church, located about four miles northwest.
Students from Rolla attended the nearby Lono school. It opened in the community in the late nineteenth century. It consolidated with the Malvern School District in 1949, with older students bused to school, and the elementary school continued to operate for several years before it closed as well.
In the twenty-first century, Rolla includes several homes and is the location of the shared Rolla-Lono Volunteer Fire Department. Most residents commute to Malvern for employment. Some agricultural activity continues in the area, including timber and cattle.
For additional information:
Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Central Arkansas. Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1889.
“Rolla, Hot Spring Co., Arkansas.” The Heritage 24 (1997): 116.
Henderson State University
Last Updated: 07/16/2020