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Sparta, Tennessee

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Country  United States
County  White
Incorporated  1813
Elevation  281 m
Local time  Tuesday 9:51 PM
State  Tennessee
Founded  1809
Named for  Sparta, Greece
Zip code  38583
Population  5,100 (2013)
Sparta, Tennessee httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu
Weather  14°C, Wind NE at 3 km/h, 80% Humidity

Sparta is a city in White County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 4,925 in 2010, and 5,075 according to a 2014 census estimate. It is the county seat of White County.


Map of Sparta, TN 38583, USA

The Calfkiller River flows through the city.

Seven sites in Sparta are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Sparta was established in 1809 as a county seat for White County, which had been created in 1806. The city was named after the ancient Greek city-state Sparta.

Sparta nearly became the capital of the state of Tennessee, as, early in the history of Tennessee, the state legislature voted to choose a location for the permanent state capital. The final vote resulted in a near tie between Sparta and Nashville. Sparta lost to Nashville by one vote.

Sparta grew quickly due to its location along the stage road between Knoxville and Nashville. In the 1830s, brothers Barlow and Madison Fisk built the Sparta Rock House, which served as an inn along the stage road. The Rock House, strategically situated in an area where the Cumberland Plateau gives way to the Calfkiller valley, was a common stopover for figures important to the early history of the state, including Andrew Jackson and Sam Houston. The building is now a state historic site and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Sparta is notable as a place where two renowned airmen lost their lives. Hawthorne C. Gray, an aviation record holder, died in a balloon-basket mishap over Sparta in 1927, and Lansing Holden, a World War I flying ace, crashed his plane near Sparta in 1938.


Sparta is located at 35°55′56″N 85°28′11″W (35.932335, -85.469837), approximately fifteen miles south of Cookeville. The city is situated on the Highland Rim, near the western base of the Cumberland Plateau. The Calfkiller River traverses Sparta north-to-south en route to its confluence with the Caney Fork several miles to the south.

Sparta is traditionally concentrated around its courthouse square along U.S. Route 70 (signed locally as Bockman Way), which connects Sparta with Crossville to the east and Smithville to the west. State Route 111, which traverses the western part of Sparta, connects the city with Cookeville to the north and Spencer to the south. A modern commercial area has developed around the intersection of US-70 and TN-111. State Route 84 winds its away up the Calfkiller Valley, connecting Sparta with Monterey atop the Plateau to the northeast. U.S. Route 70S connects Sparta with McMinnville to the southwest.

The Upper Cumberland Regional Airport is 11 mi (18 km) north of Sparta.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.3 square miles (16 km2), all land.


As of the census of 2000, there were 4,599 people, 1,952 households, and 1,270 families residing in the city. The population density was 725.2 people per square mile (280.1/km²). There were 2,192 housing units at an average density of 345.7 per square mile (133.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 91.82% White, 5.28% African American, 0.20% Native American, 0.65% Asian, 0.13% Pacific Islander, 0.67% from other races, and 1.24% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.15% of the population.

There were 1,952 households out of which 27.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.7% were married couples living together, 17.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.9% were non-families. 32.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.24 and the average family size was 2.81.

In the city, the population was spread out with 21.8% under the age of 18, 7.7% from 18 to 24, 25.0% from 25 to 44, 22.9% from 45 to 64, and 22.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 85.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 77.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $23,775, and the median income for a family was $33,060. Males had a median income of $26,970 versus $20,295 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,340. About 16.2% of families and 21.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.3% of those under age 18 and 14.3% of those age 65 or over.

Notable people

  • Foster V. Brown, U.S. Congressman
  • David Culley, Buffalo Bills' quarterbacks coach
  • John D. Defrees, newspaperman and politician
  • George Gibbs Dibrell, Civil War general (Confederate) and U.S. Congressman
  • Dale Farley, American football player
  • Lester Flatt, bluegrass musician in the Foggy Mountain Boys
  • John C. Floyd, U.S. Congressman
  • Erasmus Lee Gardenhire, politician and judge who served in the Confederate States Congress and Tennessee House of Representatives; lived his adult life in Sparta
  • Kellie Harper, head coach of the Missouri State University Lady Bears; grew up in Sparta
  • Benny Martin, bluegrass musician who invented the eight string fiddle
  • Tom Rogers, Major League Baseball pitcher
  • Alicia Selby, 2003 Miss Tennessee Teen USA
  • Charles Edward Snodgrass, U.S. Congressman; uncle of Henry C. Snodgrass
  • Henry C. Snodgrass, U.S. Congressman
  • Lefty Stewart, Major League Baseball pitcher
  • James W. Throckmorton, 12th Governor of Texas and U.S. Congressman
  • Earl Webb, Major League Baseball outfielder
  • References

    Sparta, Tennessee Wikipedia