William “Bill” Collins, a 1969 graduate of the University of Missouri-Rolla, has donated his collection of more than 2,000 mining artifacts to the university.
The gift, valued at approximately $220,000, includes carbide lamps, postcards, and souvenir spoons with engravings of mining scenes. The collection also includes a number of stereo photos, which give the illusion of seeing mining scenes in three dimensions.
“We are honored that Bill chose to donate this one-of-a-kind mining collection to UMR knowing it will benefit our future students,” says UMR Chancellor John F. Carney III. “We are grateful for this generous gift and thank Bill for his support of our mining program.”
Collins started his collection while he was a geology student at UMR.
“After I graduated, I moved to North Dakota and picked up more and more pieces,” Collins explains. “Eventually I moved to Utah and got to see a couple of very nice collections and things just grew from there.”
Some of his favorite pieces include a collection of union parade ribbons for the Western Federation of Miners and the United Mine Workers of America.
“The university can do whatever they want with them,” Collins says. “I felt that UMR could use the donation to raise money for scholarships or maybe even keep some to show various aspects of mining around the world.”
Collins fondly remembers his time at UMR. Active in the Spelunkers and Geology clubs, he enjoyed going caving and canoeing with his fellow students.
“One of the things I particularly liked about being in the Geology Club was getting to take several underground trips to the state’s lead mines and collecting trips,” he adds.
Collins, who recently retired and moved to The Villages, Fla., spent the last 15 years working as an environmental engineer for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command in San Diego. Prior to taking the Navy position, he worked for more than 10 years as a supervising geologist for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.