Preserve America Community:
Sparta Township, Michigan
The first settlers who arrived in the area of Sparta, Michigan, (population 8,000) in 1844 discovered rich land and abundant streams. Within a few years, the village of Sparta was established. The first railroad reached Sparta in 1872, linking the community with Grand Rapids and ensuring the progress and prosperity of the area.
Most of Sparta’s settlers were farmers. In 1873, the principle products were corn, grains, potatoes, hay, wool, and maple sugar. Dairy farming became, and still is, a major agricultural activity in the area. But by the turn of the century, many farmers switched from traditional crops to growing fruit, mainly apples and peaches. Today, along with its agricultural and industrial base, Sparta has developed services from banking to retail and offers easy access to a major metropolitan area.
Sparta’s history museum is housed in the one-room Myers Schoolhouse, built in 1873 and in use until 1952. A self-guided walking tour takes visitors past historical buildings in the community, and the renovated Rogers Park features a reconstructed 1950s band shell.
Each month from May through December, the Historical Commission hosts themed open houses that highlight national events and their effects on the Sparta area. A major annual celebration for the community is the “Sparta Town & Country Days!” This four-day festival has gone on for more than 50 years, with activities including a carnival, parade, craft show, live music, and such farm-based events as a tractor pull and horse barrel racing.
For more information
Township of Sparta: www.sparta-township.com
Posted March 9, 2009