Thanks to the University of Missouri’s campus, and also due in part to an entire morning spent on frontage roads and old, wandering alignments of Route 66, Rolla feels like a big town. It felt even bigger to me, once I made at least three loops through town, trying to find the school’s half-scale replica of Stonehenge, then trying to find a place to park nearby.
Just before you arrive in Rolla (assuming you’re westbound) Old Route 66 leaves the I-44 frontage and joins up with US Hwy. 63, and turns south through town, following Bishop Street, then Kings Highway.
Actually, the Stonehenge replica isn’t the least bit difficult to find. It’s on the east side of US 63, as the road makes its big curve around the college campus. I know, it’s right there, yet I didn’t see it the first time. After looping around (and encountering numerous dead-end streets on campus), I saw it on the second pass, but it wasn’t until my third effort that I found a parking area (try turning on State Street, justbefore the curve).
But enough about my navigational incompetence. Let’s talk about Rolla’s Stonehenge.
Central Missouri’s replica of the ancient England landmark is half the size of the original. The creators used high-pressure jets of water, operating at 15,000 p.s.i., to slice through the rock, accomplishing in one month a task that took prehistoric man much longer.
29 1/2 “sarsen” stones surround the perimeter. It’s thought that these stones represent the number of days in the lunar cycle. The large vertical stones inside the circle are called “trilithons”. At the summer solstice, the rising sun would shine directly through the central trilithon.
Sure, Emma is a little uptight. But that’s not a very nice thing to call her!
Joking aside (yes, that was an attempt at a joke), the “analemma” is an added feature, not found on the original Stonehenge.
The analemma is a stone, marked with the months of the year. As the seasons change, so does the position of a dot of light, which shines through a hole positioned above. As you can see by the dot, I was visiting in mid-march. This method of observation was used by the Anasazi Indians in New Mexico, as early as 950 A.D.
I could have spent more time exploring downtown Rolla. It looked nice. But after making three loops around town already, I didn’t linger.
[tmt_info =””]Rolla is pronounced RAW-la by the locals. While we’re on the topic of pronunciation, I should mention that Missouri is pronounced ma-ZUR-uh by just about everyone outside of St. Louis.[/tmt_info]
Note: This trip was first published in 2008.