A must-do in Sparta is a stroll around Liberty Square, where you can see historic buildings on the south side, a war monument and a memorial commemorating Lester Flatt and Sparta's musical heritage in front of City Hall.
While you are there, be sure to admire the clock on the sidewalk encircling City Hall. The clock was erected in 1998 in memory of former Mayor Mose Sims.
Historic Oldham Theatre is also on the square, and it functions as the city's welcome center. It is also the venue for several annual events, including the Sock Hop and the Liberty Square celebration.
For a little longer and more scenic walk, try the Calfkiller River Trail. The trail begins at South Carter Street Park and is fully paved. To find it, walk west on Bockman Way from the square to South Carter Street to Wallace-Smith Park. Then follow South Carter Street and you will see the paved trail on the right side of the road. Cross the scenic old railroad bridge to South Young Street. South Carter Street Park also has a shelter house and play equipment for children.
John White's Log Cabin
The reconstructed log cabin of John White is in excellent condition and is at the White County fairgrounds at the northern edge of the county line on Hwy. 70S. White was an early settler for whom White County is named. A visit to his cabin will help recreate life in Sparta in 1806.
Four miles east of Sparta is the Rock House, a famous stage stop and early American frontier home. It was built in 1835 as a rest stop along the wagon trail traveled between frontier settlements in the west to more civilized areas along the eastern coast.
Several noted visitors stayed overnight at the Rock House, including Andrew Jackson and James K. Polk.
The shrine is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m., from March through November. Visits are by appointment only and can be arranged by contacting the Sparta-White County Chamber of Commerce at (931) 836-3552.
Bridgestone/Firestone Centennial Wilderness
This beautiful wilderness park could be your next stop for a challenging outdoor experience. Bridgestone/Firestone Corporation donated the 10,000-acre park to the state of Tennessee. It is known as the Grand Canyon of the Cumberlands and has many scenic vistas and nine waterfalls. You can take part in wildlife watching, photography, primitive camping, hunting, fishing, kayaking, canoeing and many other outdoor pursuits.
The waterfalls in the park vary from Polly's Upper Branch Falls, at about a 12-foot drop, to Virgin Falls, with its 110-foot drop.
There are nine main trails and eight spur trails in the park.
For more information, contact the Sparta-White County Chamber of Commerce at (931) 836-3552 or the BFCW manager at (931) 935-3280.
Sparta and White County are key players in the Highlands Initiative, an ambitious economic and community development program of the Highlands of Tennessee, a region that also includes Jackson, Putnam and Overton counties. Together, we share the elevation of geography and economics.