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A fictionalized Sparta was featured in the 1967 film In the Heat of the Night and the television series in the 1980s and '90s. This fictional version of Sparta differs geographically from the real Sparta in several ways. The fictional version was shown as being across the river from Arkansas and adjacent to Interstate 20, but the real Sparta is nowhere near any interstate highway or state boundary. (The real I-20 also crosses the Mississippi at Vicksburg from Louisiana, not Arkansas; the only sizeable Mississippi city near Arkansas, Greenville, has a bridge but no interstate, though future I-69 will run nearby.) The film was actually made in Sparta, Illinois while most seasons of the television series were filmed in Covington, Georgia, east of Atlanta (and near the real I-20).
Most of the first season of the TV Series as well as the intro sequence with the Chief sitting at the railroad crossing was filmed in Hammond, Louisiana. Some of the features of this town that can be recognized are:
To see some of the features of Hammond that were included in this seasons, use Google Maps and enter "W Thomas and South Cate St Hammond LA" Most of the scenes are in a 4 block radius from that intersection.