Susan Pyles -- Director of Tourism
375 W. Birchwood St.
Morton, IL 61550
Situated in the heart of the Illinois River Valley, Morton offers the best in Illinois living. With lower housing and commodities costs, plus a higher standard of living than other communities its size, Morton is one of the best living values in the nation. Morton is located in Tazewell County and has a population of 17,000.
The median age is 40 years, and there are a large percentage of family households. With a property tax rate of 6.8207 percent and no public debt, Morton puts its resources where they will best benefit its citizens. The result is quality living in a safe and well ran community.
Pumpkin Capitol of the World
Morton is known as the Pumpkin Capital of the World because 85% of the world’s canned pumpkin is packed in the Nestles/Libby’s plant located in the center of our Village.
Morton is located at the intersection of Interstates 74 and I-155, with easy access to major cities and the Illinois state capital. This prime location — just 10 minutes from Peoria, 30 minutes from Bloomington-Normal, 50 minutes from Springfield and three hours from Chicago and St. Louis — gives Morton the benefits of city living without the inconveniences.
Peoria, a city of 100,000, offers major shopping centers, specialized medical care, and access to fine arts presentations, professional sports events and higher education opportunities.
Airports Two airports serve Morton. Just 12 miles away is the Wayne H. Downing Peoria International Airport, with flights daily to faraway places, with jet and turboprop commuter service, and car rental services. In nearby Bloomington-Normal are the Central Illinois Regional Airport and the Amtrak Railroad Station.
Morton offers cable and satellite television services as well as broadband, high-speed, and wireless Internet service and a variety of mobile phone service providers. Bringing the news to Morton residents are three daily newspapers — the Peoria Journal Star, the Pekin Daily Times and the Bloomington Pantagraph — and two weekly newspapers—Morton Times-News and Morton Courier.
Morton’s first settlers came from England, Ohio and New York in the mid-1800s. Later in that century Swiss and German settlers arrived. Even in those early days, industry and agriculture provided economic stability to the area, just as they do today.
One of the most important early companies in the area began in 1877 as the Rapp Brick & Tiles Works. The family made bricks and drainage tiles. Thanks to them, one of the most fertile farming areas in the world was discovered, as the Rapp Brothers’ field tiles helped provide drainage for the swampy, bog-like landscape.
The fertile land that was revealed turned out to be a valuable discovery that still benefits Morton today. In 1910 and again in 1922, the tile works division of the business burned and was rebuilt. Finally, a fire destroyed the facilities in 1936.
To meet the demand for hard-to-find mixing bowls and utensils, Rapp Brothers Pottery Works (later called Morton Pottery Works) was born. It hit its peak in the 1950s, when it offered a signature line of decorative items and was the third-largest business of its kind in the United States.
These signature pieces are now collectors’ items, eagerly sought at live and online auctions. Morton Pottery Shop lives on under the operation of Sheila Harvey who produces unique collectable pumpkin pottery gifts that are shipped around the world.
The development of a canning plant in the 1920s has had a strong impact on Morton. It is now owned by Nestlé USA/Libby’s and is used for pumpkin packing. Over 85 percent of the world’s canned pumpkin market is supplied by Morton’s Libby’s plant, making Morton ‘The Pumpkin Capital of the World.'
Caterpillar, Inc. came to Morton in the 1950s and helped draw Interstate 74 to its current location. Today the Worldwide Parts and Distribution Center in Morton is Caterpillar’s largest such facility in the world. The Center handles more than 375,000 part numbers, and orders can be processed and shipped anywhere in the world within hours.
Caterpillar also helped entrepreneurs who found ways to meet the demands for various pieces for their tractors, form companies of their own. Morton Industries, Matcor and Morton Buildings all have their roots deep in the Morton community.
Morton is in the midst of growth but still finding value in the lessons of the past. Planning and stability are key attributes that continue to make Morton, Illinois a community you’ll want to know more about.