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Situated halfway between St. Louis and Springfield, along Interstate Highway 44, Rolla is the county seat of Phelps County, Missouri. The city is home to the Missouri University of Science and Technology, and the headquarters of the Mark Twain National Forest. The first home known to have been built in the area that was to become Rolla was constructed by John Webber in 1844. Edmund Ward Bishop, the railroad contractor considered to have been the founder of Rolla, came nine years later. Rolla was incorporated in 1858. Many Rolla citizens were supportive of the South during the American Civil War, but the town was occupied by Union forces in June of 1861. The Union established two small forts in the area, known as Fort Wyman and Fort Dette, during their occupation of the city, and Camp Glover and Camp Davies were also located in Rolla, as the town became the regimental headquarters of the 5th Missouri State Militia. Union General Samuel Curtis had his headquarters in Rolla. Rolla prospered as a transportation and trading center, largely due to its position as the original terminus of the St. Louis - San Francisco Railroad, also known as the Frisco Line. Rolla was also a regular stop along historic Route 66, and today Interstate Highway 44, US Route 72 and Route 72 run through Rolla. Melvin Carnahan, the 51st governor of Missouri, was a resident of Rolla.

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