Sparta Historical Architecture.
The historical development of Sparta is reflected in it’s architectural heritage, most evident in the buildings dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Water Street Commercial Historic District is significant as a result of the intensive architectural and historic survey undertaken in 1989-1990. Buildings on the National Historic Register are the Monroe County Courthouse (circa 1896) Sparta Free Library (circa 1902) the United State Post Office (circa 1915) and the Monroe County Museum Complex, formerly the Masonic Temple (circa 1922-1923). There are still many of the Historical Homes standing in the area as well.
The Bicycling Capitol of America
Sparta is home of the very first Rails to Trails project, the Elroy Sparta Trail. Connected to over 100 miles of bike trails it’s no wonder why Sparta is known as “America’s Bicycling Capital” The Elroy Sparta trail is a trail with a remarkable history. As a former railroad corridor to the West, the Chicago and Northwestern trains rumbled along the tracks that were built by hand. Built in the days when you went through the hill, not over it, the Elroy Sparta trail is home to three hand carved tunnels. The first two tunnels are just under one half mile, with the third tunnel being over three-quarters of a mile in length. Bring your flashlights and raincoats and see the amazing craftsmanship from over a century ago. You’ll never forget being on the “Granddaddy of them all.” The Elroy Sparta Trail also connects in Sparta with the La Crosse River Trail. This is all part of the over 100 miles of rails to trails connected to Sparta. For more information on all of the trails please visit Bike4Trails website at www.bike4trails.com
Sparta is home to two museums. The Deke Slayton Space & Bicycle Museum has on it’s display Wisconsin’s only Moon Rock. The museum is a progression of transportation from the first bicycles, the Wright Brother’s Bicycle Shop and the Wright Flyer, exploring Monroe County’s rich aviation history and into outer space with Mercury 7 Astronaut Donald Kent “Deke” Slayton. There are over 200 bicycle exhibits from the very 1st style of bicycles, to modern day bicycles.
The Monroe County History Room & Museum is a full history of the Sparta area with displays of days gone by. The Monroe County Museum offers history exhibits and special programs. Permanent exibits and regularly changing displays illustrate past live and experiences of Monroe county people, pioneer history, agriculture, military history, industry, business and the home. To find out more information about the Deke Slayton Memorial Space & Bicycle Museum please click here
The Wegner Grotto
Started in 1929, The Wegner Grotto in the midst of the Monroe County countryside north of Sparta. It’s an unusual but beautiful site a fantastic garden of concrete sculpture decorated with thousands of glittering glass shards. It was purchased by the Kohler Foundation in 1986 as part of it’s commitment to the documentation and preservation of significant outsider art environments and folk architecture.
Many Amish families reside about 15 miles of South of Sparta, just off Hwy 27. Cashton is well-know for it’s farm town as well as their Amish Community. Travel along Hwy 33 to see be beautiful scenery, horse drawn buggies and various wares and produce for sale. Most Amish homes will post a sign at the end of their driveway informing you of what they have for sale. Or stop into Down a Country Road. Down a Country Road, takes you back to a quieter simpler way of life where a buggy and colorful quilts airing on the clothesline are not uncommon sights. Located at the foot of the hill, two miles east of Cashton along State Hwy 33, the Kuderer’s non-Amish family farm is the site of four gift shops and an ice cream shop. It is also where you will meet Kathy for the start of your personal guided one and one half hour tour through Wisconsin’s largest Amish community. You will be amazed at the quality of hand crafted quilts, furniture, rugs, baskets, homemade candies, jams, jellies and so much more.
Antiquing & Quilt Shops
Sparta is home to “Sparta’s Quilt Corner” which holds classes, clubs, events and has it’s own shop. Located in the historic downtown Sparta it is a fan favorite of traveler’s through the Sparta Region. The store owned by a mother/daughter team has a rich history of a yarning tale or two. The shop has 100% fabric patterns, batting and can even long-arm you a quilt and bind it.
Antiquing in the Sparta area is a fan favorite with many antique shops in the area there is a little something for everyone. You won’t be disappointed walking through one of the many shops and sheds with items dating back to the early 1700’s. Antique collectors from the area have traveled across North America to find some of the rarest items left. Call the Sparta Chamber of Commerce to get a full list of Antique dealers in the area.
Fort McCoy Commemorative Area - Pine View Campground – Whitetail Ski Ridge – Tactics Paintball and Laser Tag
Founded in 1909, Fort McCoy is named in honor of General Robert Bruce McCoy a distinguished veteran of World War I who also served locally as a county judge and mayor of Sparta. Fort McCoy is the only Army Installation in the upper Midwest. Home of the Commemorative area which consists of World War II era building set aside to help tell Fort McCoy’s unique story. These facilities, representative of the type found in the cantonment area when it was contrasted in 1942. An administrative facility, a dining facility and one barracks are set up to represent use of each facility during the WWII era. The History Center features display of memorabilia that reflects the role the installation held throughout WWI, WWII, the Korean War, the Cuban Refugee Resettlement center operations, Operation Desert Storm and more. Appointments can be made by contacting the Public Affairs Office by phone at 608-388-2407.
Fort McCoy has a massive recreational area open to the public as well. Pine View Campgrounds, Whitetail Ridge Ski, Tactics Paintball and Laser Tag are open to the public for all to enjoy. Located on the western part of the base just off of Hwy 21 stop in and get your fill of so many outdoor activities all in one location.