Sparta Township is a township in Sussex County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township's population was 19,722, reflecting an increase of 1,642 (+9.1%) from the 18,080 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 2,923 (+19.3%) from the 15,157 counted in the 1990 Census.
Sparta was organized as a township by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on April 14, 1845, from portions of Byram Township, Frankford Township, Hardyston Township and (the now-defunct) Newton Township. The township was named after the existing community of Sparta, which had been settled and named years before, the name likely coming from Sparta, Greece. Ogdensburg borough was incorporated on February 26, 1914, from portions of Sparta Township.
Pre-colonial Sparta was inhabited by the Lenape Native Americans. In the 1750s, Dutch explorers discovered red ores in the area and attempted to mine copper. No permanent settlers arrived until 1778, when Robert Ogden and his wife built their home and constructed an iron forge on lands he had acquired and "called their house and farm Sparta." The first public building in Sparta was the Presbyterian Church which was incorporated in 1786. Schools were established in Ogdensburg by 1806 and in Sparta by 1812.
Iron, zinc, and limestone supported a mining industry for over 100 years, but today the mining operations have ceased and the township is now a residential community served by retail, professional, and service small businesses. According to the 2000 census, 65% of Sparta Township workers commute to jobs outside of the county.
Robert Ogden settled in 1778 near the present town of Ogdensburg and built an iron forge, utilizing local ore from his Ogden Mine on Sparta Mountain. The Horseshoe mine was opened in 1772 by the Englishmen Spargo and Harvey who shipped ore by horse and mule to the forges at Sparta and Hopewell. It wasn't until 1868 that the Ogden Mine Railroad began operations and made it economical to ship zinc and iron ore to Nolan's Point on Lake Hopatcong where the Morris Canal had a marine terminal that could ship ore to Newark.