From a distance, the town of Morton appears to be like any other small town in Illinois, but it is filled with surprises. Located in central Illinois, it is often overlooked by the town of Peoria, its city neighbor to the west. Even if you’ve never heard of Morton, there is plenty about it that stands out as interesting and even remarkable.
Here are five quick facts about Morton, Illinois.
Morton is Good at Pumpkins
Morton, Illinois is known as the Pumpkin Capital of the World, and the city is proudest of this title. The month of September is dedicated to celebrating the pumpkin and the town’s part in sharing the vegetable with the rest of the world. Many of the farms around Morton farm pumpkins, and a little over eighty percent of the canned pumpkin is produced at a canning facility in Morton. The Pumpkin Festival attracts visitors from all over the state and country to celebrate Morton’s pumpkin status each year.
Home of the Caterpillar
While the canning company gets a huge portion of the spotlight in Morton, it is home to another well known company and brand. The Caterpillar Company is known for its farming machinery, but it also manufactures construction and mining equipment. This brand is known all over the world and Caterpillar has established stores and factories all over the world as well, but Morton is home to both the brand and the company.
Morton Schools Excel
Schools in the small town of Morton are often ranked among the top performers in both the state and country. A lot of attention is put into the education of each student, with great success. Classrooms are not overcrowded and the quality of living has a hand in attracting some of the best teachers to the school district.
Morton is home to four elementary schools and just a single middle school and one high school that every child in the district is funneled into. There are few private, two religious parochial schools, and charter school options in Morton, Illinois or the surrounding areas, so the public school district is the main educational choice of parents and students living here. One of the elementary schools, Lettie Brown, is named after an exceptional former school administrator, Lettie Brown who taught students in the district for over fifty years.
Morton is a Small Town
It might surprise folks how small the town of Morton is when you know what you already do about the place. Morton is under thirteen square miles in size, which is smaller than the roads that run through most towns. Even though Morton is small in size, there is considerable farmland that surrounds it and only a small portion of the citizens live within the center of town so it doesn’t appear to be overpopulated.
Home to Two NBA Players
While it is not necessarily for more than one NBA player to come from the same hometown, it is notable when two come from the same small hometown. Morton is home to former NBA players, J.R. Koch and Derek Grimm. Grimm played for the Sacramento Kings after attending the University of Missouri and was drafted by the New York Knicks after playing college ball for the University of Iowa.
Other notable Morton residents include businessmen and elected officials. Illinois State Senator, Roger Sommer, was raised in the town and served in the 45th district. Illinois State Representative, Jay Ackerman, also came from Morton after a long career as a farmer. Businessmen that were involved in industry helped make Morton notable as well. David Burritt was the former CEO of U.S. Steel, one of the biggest industry leaders in the country. David Lilienthal had a presidential appointment to the Atomic Energy Commission which was developed to promote peace and build the country’s understanding of atomic science and technology.