History of Morton
Settled in the 1800s, Morton was known for the bricks and drainage tiles made by the Rapp & Brick Tile Works; the land around Morton was drained using the tiles in the late 1800s. This early industry helped to reveal amply fertile farmland. The tile works branched out into a pottery business for kitchen crockery and utensils, an industry that hit its peak in the 1950s.
Enter the transition from pottery to pumpkins. In the 1920s a canning plant was developed and was a great boon to the community. This plant is now owned by Nestlé USA/LIBBY’S and is engaged in pumpkin packing. According to LIBBY’S, about 5,000 acres of the rich farmland of the region is devoted to producing the pumpkins for the plant, and more than 80 percent of the world’s canned pumpkin is supplied by the plant, making Morton, Illinois, the world’s top producer of pumpkin products. Celebrating this distinction during the annual Pumpkin Festival, Morton is proud to be called the “Pumpkin Capital of the World.”
The 1950s brought international powerhouse Caterpillar Inc. to Morton. Caterpillar’s largest Worldwide Parts and Distribution Center employs over 3,000 people in the region, providing a rock-solid foundation for the local economy. Morton is also home to several nationally known companies including CORE Construction and Morton Buildings.