- No One is exactly sure why Thomas and Elizabeth Morton decided to pack up their three children, leave their home in Clark County and establish the town that now bears their name.
In all likelihood the Mortons chose the area because of its abundant game and high ground, which made it possible to avoid marsh diseases, insects and flooding.
The area that today is Morton Gap was home to a wide variety of animals such as buffalo, wild turkey and elk. the area had no roads, but had many traces that were made by the buffalo. The Peaks of Otter, southwest of Mortons Gap is the highest point in Hopkins County. The valley between the two peaks gave the town the last half of its name.
The original settlement was in Christian County, but became part of Henderson County when it was created by the division of Christian County in 1799. When Henderson County was divided in 1807, the town finally became part of Hopkins County.
As time passed others began to settle in the area of the Morton home, and it became the central point of a small community called Mortons Settlement.
In 1871 the St. Bernard Coal Company of Earlington expanded into Mortons Settlement. The company built houses for its employees and also established a general merchandise and drug store. Coal mining was a vital part of the town, but logging had also become an important industry in the town in the late 1800s.
The first post office opened in 1871 and the Christian Church followed in 1873. Because of growth in the town, the decision was made to incorporate and the settlement became the town of Mortons Gap in 1888.
In the early 1900s the streets of the town were lined with such things as the Mortons Gap Mercantile Company and the I.O.O.F. Lodge 325 building. The lodge building provided a place for meetings and the first floor was used as an opera house and was later made into a motion picture house called the Grand Theater. As was the custom, the Grand provided piano music to accompany their silent movies.
The present day Mortons Gap is a quiet, quaint town. What the town lacks in hustle and bustle it makes up for in small town charm. A veteran's memorial park situated in the middle of town pays homage to those who fought and gave their lives freedom. The piles of dirt that line the main drag through town are tell-tale signs of the city's recent sewer project. The project began last November with a completion date scheduled for August 1996.
In spite of some minor setbacks Mayor Frank Stafford, says several projects to improve Mortons Gap today are becoming success stories.
Renovations of the city park are resulting in several new recreational facilities for the town. The extra dirt from a sewer project is being used to fill in areas of the park so a new basketball court can be built and new play-ground equipment installed.
In addition to the new sewer system and renovated park, the town is also getting safer. The city has received a $41,500 grant which provides funds for another police officer to be hired to patrol the city streets.
Stafford said the city also plans to replace several street signs that have fallen prey to vandals in recent months and to begin resurfacing city streets as soon as the sewer project is complete.
This feature story originally appeared in the The Messenger in the small towns section of their "Changing Face of Hopkins County" on September 6, 1996 and was written by Slone Hutchison, a summer intern from Murray State University working with The Messenger to gain practical news papering skills during her summer vacation.
My thanks to The Messenger for granting permission to publish on the Hopkins County, Kentucky KyGenWeb page.
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