Sparta, known as the "Bicycling Capital of America"the "Home of the Fiberglass Animals" and the Monroe County Seat, is a friendly community of nearly 8,000 residents. Sparta's history dates back to 1894 when the first permanent settlers to make land claims in Sparta were the Petit family in 1851, William Petit built a log cabin on the bank of Beaver Creek where the Carnegie library now stands. In these same years, there were settlers enough in the village to induce them to call a town meeting and pass a resolution that the community should have a name. Considerable discussion of this momentous question took place as to how the name was to be chosen, and it was finally decided that Mrs.Petit, the mother of the first settler, should have the honor of selecting the name. She chose Sparta, Her exact reason has been obscured by the mists of time, but possibly this pioneer woman chose to pay tribute to the "Spartan Courage" of the founders.
Sparta was incorporated as a village in 1857 and as a city in 1883. The setting of Sparta is poetically described through an account of its beauty written in 1867: "Imagine a fertile valley through which flows a river fed by numerous trout brooks whose soft, clear waters babble of the spring in the highlands where they were born. Surrounded with a chain of bluffs, some near, others remote, among which winds the river and its tributaries....Near at hand, scarcely more than one mile away, are bluffs, forest covered, whose well divided proportions are clearly cut against the blue sky."
The historical development of Sparta is reflected in its architectual heritage, the greatest wealth and diversity being evident in the city's architecture dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Listed on the National Historical Register are St. John's Episcopal Church at 120 plus years of age: Monroe County Courthouse, circa 1896; Masonic Temple, circa 1923; and the Sparta Free Library, one of the original Carnegie libraries, circa 1904.
Education in Sparta
The Sparta Area School District provides a comprehensive and flexible curriculum emphasizing academic, cultural, social, moral and physical advancement along with a wide variety of programs to include services for students with special needs, the Gifted and Talented Program, Child At Risk Program and an active Special Olympics Program. The University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, Viterbo College and Western Wisconsin Technical College offer from one year Vocational to Master level degrees and are located in nearby LaCrosse.
Healthcare in Sparta
Excellant health care is available at St. Mary's Hospital, a fully accredited facility affiliated with St. Francis Medical Center in LaCrosse and two major clinics, Sparta-Gunderson Clinic and St. Mary's Family Practice Clinic.
Industry in Sparta
Sparta's diverse industrial employers are Northern Engraving Corporation, Sparta Brush Company, Spartek Inc, Sparta Manufacturing Company, Highlight Sign and Golden Guernsey Dairy. Other major employers include Sparta School District, St. Mary's Hospital, Morrow Memorial Home, Wal-Mart, Sparta-Gunderson Clinic, and Radio WCOW-FM/WKLJ-AM. Large fiberglass animals and structures famous throughout the world are made in Sparta by F.A.S.T. Corporation. Sparta is also home to numerous service clubs and organizations. Self-guided tours are available. For further information, contact the Sparta Area Chamber of Commerce, 111 Milwaukee Street, Sparta, WI 54656, (800) 354-BIKE or (608) 269-4123.
Fort McCoy is an United States Army installation located less than five miles from Sparta. Its mission is that of the nation's largest reserve component training and mobilization center. The post was an important training and prisoner of war camp during World War II and served as a training facility during the Korean War. More recently, Fort McCoy activated trained and dispatched thousands of troops to Saudi Arabia in support of the Persian Gulf War. During a normal training season, over 140,000 troops pass through Fort McCoy, which is also the largest single employer in the area. Fort McCoy offers excellent year round recreational facilities at the Pine View Recreational Area and the WhiteTail Ridge Recreation Area. The Wisconsin State Patrol Academy is also located at Fort McCoy.
Lodging and Dining
Sparta offers quality lodging with six motels, two bed & breakfasts and both private and primitive camping facilities. The city also has many restaurants from fast food to fine dining to include banquet facilities.
Recreation and Leisure
Sparta offers a variety of attractions for a variety of interests. Cross country skiing and snowmobiling attract many visitors during our winter months. Hunting, fishing and canoeing enthusiasts enjoy the beauty of Monroe County year round. Sparta takes great pride in its 18 hole Municipal Golf Course which has the reputation of being one of the finest in the state. Memorial Park, located on the north shore of Perch Lake, contains five picnic shelters, playground, four lighted softball diamonds, concession stand, an olympic size swimming pool with wading pool, tennis courts, soccer fields, lighted ice skating and hockey rinks complete with warming house, and a football field.
Sparta, the , is located in a scenic valley surrounded by rolling hillsides. Sparta is home of the Elroy-Sparta State Bike Trail where over 70,000 people annually come to use the biking facilities. This granddaddy of all bicycle trails offers a 32-mile ride through spectacular foilage and topography. It passes over 33 treastles and through three cavernous tunnels, one of which is almost a mile in length. The LaCrosse River State Trail, which offers an additional 21.5 miles of biking pleasure, parallels the LaCrosse River and an active rail line. Prairie remnants, farmlands, trout streams, and hardwood forests are found along this trail.
The Paul and Matilda Wegner Grotto, known locally as the Little Glass Church, is located just north of Sparta. This unique garden of concrete sculpture decorated with thousands of glittering glass shards is an important part of Wisconsin's cultural heritage.
Sparta Quest Winter Fest, held annually the first weekend in February, creates a winter wonderland of family oriented fun. Planned activities include Cross Country Bicycle Races; snowmobile radar runs; Torchlight Parade; winter golf, softball and volleyball tournaments played in the snow; ice fishing derby; Ice Skating Carnival; winter run/walk; Cross Country Ski Tour; sleigh and wagon rides; arts & crafts show; and various youth events. Other attractions include live entertainment, music food and refreshments all located in a heated fest tent.
The annual ButterFest is held the second weekend in June and boasts a vast array of fun for the entire family. Some of the activities include the Miss Sparta Pageant, arts and crafts, flea market, golf and softball tournaments, auto van show show, milking contest, and the gigantic ButterFest parade. Other attractions include a carnival, live entertainment, and several food and refreshment tents.