Located in Tazewell County, the village of Morton is located within the Peoria, Illinois Metropolitan Statistical Area. Known for its annual September pumpkin festival, this mid-sized city features a pleasant pace of life. In 2013, a major national magazine ranked the village — aka “the Pumpkin Capital of the World” — as one of the ten best places in America for families.
Settlers arriving from Ohio and New York, later joined by Swiss and German immigrants, established the greater Morton Township in the 1830s. Named to honor anti-slavery Massachusetts governor Marcus Morton, the area was associated with agriculture and pottery. In the 1920s, the arrival of a cannery soon led Morton to be renowned for its pumpkin exports — Nestle cans 85% of the world’s pumpkin here every autumn.
At the 2010 census, the population was 16,267. Its population density is 1293 per square mile. The median age is 40, somewhat higher than the U.S. national average of 37.4. Approximately 70% of its housing is owner-occupied with 23% rented and 6% vacant. The median home price $180,300 as of 2019, lower than the national average of $219,700. The median income is $70,878. Mostly land, the city sits atop 12.95 square miles, bordered by Peoria to its west and Bloomington farther to its east. Located between Chicago, St. Louis and Indianapolis, more than a quarter of the U.S. population lives within 500 miles.
Morton is known for its quality schools. The 709 School District comprises six schools, including four K-6 schools as well as a junior high and high school. The district spends over $11,000 per student per annum with a student to instructor ratio of 18:1. Over a century old, its high school is noteworthy in that much of its faculty hold master’s degrees. Niche.com has named it the highest-rated public high school in Tazewell County.
Located at the intersection of the Illinois highways I-155 and I-74, the average one-way commute runs 19.5 minutes. Greater Peoria Mass Transit services the city with 21 CityLink routes that traverse greater Tazewell County. Amtrak operates a station in nearby Peoria, roughly 10 minutes away along the I-74W.
What to Do in the Village
No mere frippery, the Pumpkin Festival draws over 75,000 visitors to Illinois annually. Organizers arrange each year’s festivities around a theme. Recent themes have included Superhero Pumpkins, Pumpkins of the Caribbean and S’more Pumpkin. Naturally pumpkin is everywhere on the menu, with pumpkin chili, pumpkin donuts and even pumpkin fudge present.
Fans of the outdoors will find much to enjoy. Birchwood Park features pickle ball courts, 4 softball fields, a pond and fun amenities for the kids. Larger and greener, Northwood Park offers disc golf, hill sledding and bike trails galore set across 108 lush, wooded acres. Tent camping also allowed by permit.
The Community Bikeway offers 2.5 miles of paved trail and connects with the Fon-Du-Lac River Trail, allowing for both vigorous exercise and beautiful scenery.