SectionsSparta Township Biography
About Sparta Township
Small-town life is alive and well in Sparta, New Jersey. This 39-square-mile township is located in the southernmost part of Sussex County. It borders Morris County’s Jefferson Township as well as the Sussex County towns of Andover, Byram, Hardyston, Lafayette and Ogdensburg. Gently rolling countryside provides a scenic backdrop for new and established neighborhoods, many of which are situated in one of the township’s 11 lake communities.
Among the lake communities, Lake Mohawk is the largest and best-known. It includes the three-and-a-half-mile-long Lake Mohawk, with over 2,000 homes, White Deer Plaza shopping area, a lakefront boardwalk and the historic Lake Mohawk Country Club. In fact, White Deer Plaza, the country club and boardwalk are listed on the New Jersey and National Historic Registers.
Main Street’s shopping area features Sparta Town Square, a shopping center which opened in 2011 and is anchored by a Stop & Shop grocery store. Smaller businesses in town include restaurants, cafes, a book store, bowling alley, three-screen movie theater, hardware store, garden center, bakery, pharmacy and numerous other shops, services and small businesses. In and around Main Street, many shops are located in charming antique buildings.
Many residents commute to work in larger towns and cities including Newark, about 50 miles away, Manhattan, approximately 60 miles east, or Morristown, a 25-mile ride from Sparta. Recent population numbers report that 19,000-plus people live in the township.
White Deer Plaza showcases the “fairy tale” architecture seen in many buildings throughout Lake Mohawk. There are several shops, restaurants, an ice cream parlor and a wooden boardwalk edging the north end of the lake.
Sparta Glen is located at the base of Sparta Mountain near the end of Main Street on Glen Road. Although a flood in 2000 damaged much of the natural terrain, volunteers have been active in bringing the parkland back to life over the past few years, and it is a popular place for dog walkers and hikers. The Glen was a huge attraction to visitors in the late 1800s and early 1900s who were drawn to its fresh mountain air.
Thomas Edison Monument on Edison Road pays tribute to the abandoned factory site, iron mine and village that were developed by the legendary inventor on Sparta Mountain from 1889 to 1900. Often termed a “magnificent failure,” Edison nevertheless said of his time in Sparta, “We had a hell of a good time.”
The First Presbyterian Church of Sparta on Main Street is the oldest incorporated church still on its original site in the state of New Jersey. It was established in 1786 and was once home to Sparta’s first school and fire station.
The Wallkill River is the only river east of the Mississippi to flow northward. Its headwaters originate in Sparta, wending their way to Kingston, New York, where it eventually flows to the Hudson River. A footbridge in Station Park crosses over the Wallkill, a popular place for trout fishing in early spring.