Hugh Morton Biographical Notes

Biographical Notes

  • Born February 19, 1921 in Wilmington, NC
  • Education:
    Episcopal High School, Alexandria, Virginia University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Married Julia Taylor in Greensboro on December 8, 1945
  • Children:
    • Julia MacRae Morton, Greensboro
    • Hugh Morton, Jr. (Deceased)
    • James M. Morton, Linville
    • Catherine W. Morton, Linville

  • Grandchildren: (Sons of Hugh Morton, Jr.)
    • Hugh MacRae (Crae) Morton, III, Boone
    • Jack Morton, Raleigh

  • Great grandchild: (Son of Crae Morton) Clyde MacRae Morton
  • Sister: Agnes Morton Woodruff of Wilmington and Linville
  • Grandfather Mountain

    • Inherited Grandfather Mountain from his grandfather, Hugh MacRae, in 1952
    • Extended road to top of the mountain in 1952
    • Built the Mile High Swinging Bridge in 1952
    • Built Visitor Center on top in 1961
    • Established a National Weather Service Weather Reporting Station in 1956
    • Built seven native wildlife habitats for adult bears, mother bear and cubs, golden eagles, bald eagles, cougars, white-tail deer and river otters
    • Built nature museum and theater
    • Promoted the mountain for over 50 years through his photography
    • Chairman of the board and president of the mountain until June 2005, when he made his grandson, Crae, president.
    • Made preservation of Grandfather Mountain his primary focus
      • Donated conservation easements for over 3,000 acres of Grandfather Mountain to the Nature Conservancy, and sold additional acres and conservation easements to the Nature Conservancy to insure Grandfather Mountain is protected in the future
      • Protected the mountain from a “high route” of the Blue Ridge Parkway that would have harmed the scenic beauty and ecosystem of the mountain (1954-1966).

    Travel & Tourism Related

  • President of the 1st North Carolina Azalea Festival in Wilmington (1948)
  • Member of NC Board of Conservation & Development (1951-61)
    • Served on the board as chairman of State Advertising Committee and vice-chairman of State Parks Committee

  • Helped save the battleship USS North Carolina and was the first chairman of the battleship commission (1961)
  • President of G.F. Company, developer of Grandfather Golf & Country Club (beginning 1967)
  • Chairman of Governor’s Advisory Committee on Travel & Tourism
  • Served as president or chairman of:
    • Blue Ridge Parkway Association,
    • Travel Council of North Carolina (now North Carolina Travel Industry Association),
    • Southern Highlands Attractions Association,
    • North Carolina Botanical Garden Foundation, and
    • NC Sports Hall of Fame (1975)

  • Honored as one of the “Top 20 Tourism Leaders of the 20th Century” by Appalachian State University.
  • Received the Eagle Award from the Blue Ridge Parkway Association for exceptional contributions in preserving and promoting the Parkway. This special award that has been given to only three people (1983)
  • First recipient of the Travel Council of North Carolina’s highest award for individual contributions to the North Carolina travel industry (1965)
  • First recipient of the Charles Kuralt Award for bringing exceptional, positive national attention to the state of North Carolina by the NC Travel Industry Association (2000)
  • Winners Circle Award from Governor Michael Easley (2004)
  • Received the Sue Wilmoth Award for the Advancement of Tourism from the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce (2006)
  • First inductee into the newly formed North Carolina Tourism Hall of Fame (2006)
  • Civic

  • Past board member (1959-1998) and chairman of the Carolina Motor Club, AAA for NC and SC
  • Briefly considered a run for governor of North Carolina in 1972 (but dropped out before filing because he would have had to put Grandfather Mountain up as collateral to help finance the campaign)
  • Chairman of Businessmen’s Committee in support of a constitutional amendment allowing North Carolina governors to be re-elected (1977)
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