SPARTA – The Sparta Historical Society announces that Museum Director, Jack Clark, will present a slide show originally created by local historian, William Eppler.  Recently discovered in the Sparta Historical Society’s archives, this documentary includes images from the 1890s and 1960s… how the mine and railroad looked in the beginning and, then, more recently.

The lecture, with a guest speaker, will take place on Thursday, March 9th at 7 p.m. at the Sparta First Presbyterian Church located at 32 Main Street.  

Sparta mines were revived in 1881 when Thomas Edison created his Edison Ore-Milling Company. He purchased thousands of Sparta Mountain acres including the defaulted Ogden, Victor, Knoll, Roberts/Pardee, Davenport, and Vulcan mines.  He built a village called Edison that housed over 700 tradesmen, miners and their families.  They serviced or worked at the mines/experimental plant that crushed and processed ore into briquettes, a process he invented to be more cost-effective for shipping to distant smelters.  After investing millions, he closed the operation in 1899 realizing he couldn’t compete with the Mesabi Range iron production.

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Ogden Mine Railroad came about because of enormous pressure placed on Morris & Sussex County’s iron ore mines production during the American Civil War 1861-1865.   The transport of ore was typically shipped by mule cart along wooden trails to local forges or to the Morris Canal at the far end of Lake Hopatcong.  To help resolve this problem, the Ogden Mine Railroad was built to haul ore from Sparta Mountain.   While it was built to satisfy demands of Civil War, it was never used for that purpose because it was completed in 1866, a year after the war was over.   The railroad did serve, however, to haul iron ore and zinc ore to the Morris canal for many years.

Following the presentation, refreshments will be served.  Those attending will have a chance to ask questions about the topic or other issues relating to the history of the township or the county.

The Sparta Historical Society is located at The Van Kirk Homestead Museum at 336 Main Street - Rte. 517, use Middle School Driveway, Sparta. It will reopen Sunday, April 9 with our new Spring Exhibition on “A New Era:  Women, Their Hats, and Social Change” and will be open every second and fourth Sunday through June 25 from 1-4 pm with 2PM talk. Further details or group reservations, call 973-726-0883 or Email: spartahistoricalsocnj@gmail.com.