James S. Rollins sold the property associated with the spring in 1870 to the University of Missouri. Before that, He had employed a German to terrace the hillside and plant grapes similar to the Rhine area in Germany.
After the University purchased the property it became a favorite spot for students to picnic and enjoy nature. Many outings and parties were had at this spot. In the late 19th century, the area around the spring was fenced for a feeding experiment with cows. Already a popular spot with the students, it didn’t take long for the fence to become beat down, letting the cows escape, ruining the experiment. The agriculture dean, in frustration filled in the spring which popped up in another location. After a second try at filling it in, he gave up.
At a later time, the state wanted to build a fish hatchery and Rollins Spring was high on the list of possible sites. Much planning, mapping and testing of the water was done in making a bid for the hatchery. On the day a state official visited the site the spring was dry, at which time he mentioned that this wouldn’t be such a great place for fish after all. Within a few days, the spring began flowing again, and it hasn’t been dry since.
In the late 1960’s, Providence Road was widened and improved placing the spring at the edge of the road. With the Research Park on one side of the highway and the athletic complex built on the other side the spring became lost in obscurity. In 2011, the spring was cleaned up with gravel access paths and native Missouri plantings, then dedicated to Missouri Athletes and is easily accessible from Mick Deaver Memorial Drive extension to Providence Road.
The spring branch in 1912.
A gravel path leads to the spring from the street.
Ironweed (Veronia) blooms at the spring.