The borough takes its name from a great spring that could be heard roaring a mile away, and though the roaring stopped when several large stones were removed from the spring's base, the name continues. Located at the southern end of Morrison's Cove, the earliest European settlers were German Brethren farmers in the 1780s. By the 1820s, the Spang family had opened a mill, store, and two forges. As a commercial center, the village, then called Spang's Mills, attracted a steady stream of teamsters, as it was located midway between the source of iron ore and a large iron furnace at McKee. In 1863, Daniel Bare and his son, Daniel Mathias Bare, purchased ninety acres, and two years later, in partnership with two others, they founded a paper mill and expanded it twice. In 1880, they built an additional and even larger paper mill in Tyrone. The family wisely declined the dubious honor of naming the village “Baretown,” choosing instead to commemorate the Roaring Spring. Connected to Altoona in 1871 by the Morrison's Cove Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad, the community grew large enough to become a borough in 1888. A one-story, hipped-roof brick train station (c. 1905; Main Street), three bays wide and with a long covered platform, is the only historic passenger station continuing to operate in Blair County, and represents the connection of the paper mill and the planing mill to larger markets.
Two large churches from the 1890s flank the town center, the gray stone Gothic Revival Trinity United Methodist Church (1898; 434 E. Main Street) and the red brick Romanesque Revival Bare Memorial Church of God (1889, 1930; 508 E. Main Street). The blue limestone Colonial Revival mansion with a large colonnade across the facade at 604 Oakmont Place was built for Dr. W. A. Nason. Today, the employee-owned Appleton paper mill and the Roaring Spring Blank Book Company ( BL30), with their Roaring Spring Premium Spring Water division (1980), are the major industries. Another significant employer is the New Enterprise Stone and Lime Quarry, north of the borough.
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