Spartans Rebuild War-Torn City
By 1870, the census indicated less than 10,000 people remained in White County. However, throughout the 1870s and 1880s the residents began to rebuild their lives and the economy began to rebound as mining and manufacturing began to thrive. It was in part due to the surge of mining operations that the railroad was extended to Sparta. Local mine owner, statesman and former Confederate General George C. Dibbrell was also president of the Southwestern Railroad Company. It was his influence that encouraged the rail company to route the tracks through Sparta. Because the railway provided needed transportation for products, several factories were established in the region in the latter portion of the 19th century.
The turn of the century brought more progress and the establishment of many businesses and industries, including the Sparta Spoke Factory. The town was again booming. So, when Tennesseans began searching for a suitable location for their state capital, Sparta was on the short list. The town was not only in the center of the state, but adding to its appeal was the ease of transportation provided by Hwy. 70E -- Tennessee's main east/west corridor -- which bisected the town. The vote was close, and when they were all counted, Sparta had lost by only one.