Timeline

1865: Hugh MacRae (Morton's grandfather) is born in Carbonton, NC at the family's Chatham County home. Originally from Wilmington, the family will return two years later after Federal occupation ends. He will marry Rena Nelson and have two children: Nelson and Agnes (Hugh Morton's mother).

1897: Julian W. Morton (Hugh's father) is born in Savannah to T.L. Morton, an engineer with the Atlantic Coast Line.

1885: Hugh MacRae graduates from MIT and goes to Spruce Pine to mine mica.

1889: Buys 16,000 acres from Walter Lenoir (including Grandfather and Grandmother Mountains). He founds the Linville Improvement Co. to develop this area. Later develops Linville, Grandfather Mountain as tourist spot.

1895: MacRae becomes president of the Wilmington Cotton Mills (father's).

1900: MacRae becomes president of the Wilmington Gas Light Co., which has or soon will already buy a power company. He begins the Hugh MacRae Banking Co. and through it develops the Rockingham Power Co.

1902: MacRae founds Hugh MacRae & Co., a development company that develops much of Wrightsville Beach, Winter Park, Audobon and Oleander.

1905: Starts the Carolina Truck and Development Co. responsible for colonizing New Berlin, Castle Hayne, Van Eeden and others.

1906: Julian Morton's family moves to Wilmington.

1907: Consolidated Railways becomes Tidewater Power Co. with MacRae as president until 1929.

1909: MacRae and Frederick Van Eeden, a Dutch medical doctor who had experimented with communal farm colonies in Holland, establish the Van Eeden colony in Pender County. The colony fails in 1939 and is purchased by Dr. Alvin Johnson to sponsor Jews trying to flee Germany.

1917: Julian Morton Joins the UVA Unit of the Ambulance Corps. Is awarded the Purple Heart and Silver Star.

1919: Julian Morton joins to Linville Co. and Hugh MacRae & Co. He will construct many of the resort homes in Linville in the 20s and 30s and will serve as president of both companies until his death.

1920: Agnes MacRae and Julian Morton are married.

1921: Hugh MacRae Morton born to Julian Morton and Agnes Macrae Morton.

1925: The first Singing on the Mountain is held at MacRae Meadows at the base of Grandfather Mountain, as a church picnic under the leadership of Joe Hartley, a warden of Grandfather Mountain.

1930: Julian Morton builds the Wilmington Pier (Johnny Mercer's Pier).

1934: Hugh Morton attends a photography class at summer camp in Linville when he is 13. The next year, the photography instructor doesn't show up, and Hugh is old enough to be a junior counselor. As such, he teaches the class.

1935: First published photograph is a golf scene for a NC tourism ad that appeared in Time magazine when Hugh Morton is 14.

1939: Linville Improvement Co. sells 448 acres along the Yanoahlossee Trail, which evolves into US 221. Hugh attends UNC-CH and takes photos for the Buccaneer, Carolina Mag and Daily Tar Heel. Strings for the AP and does shoots for Esquire. Is sports photographer for newspapers in Charlotte, Greensboro and Durham. He is later inducted into the Order of the Golden Fleece.

1940: Photographs Frank Porter Graham walking with Eleanor Roosevelt.

1942: Volunteers n the Army's Signal Corps as a photographer. Is transferred to New Caledonia, an island off of Australia, and Bouganville with the 37th Division. Upon arrival in the South Pacific, is made a newsreel photographer.

1944: Harlan P. Kelsey mounts a campaign to buy Grandfather and Grandmother Mountains and turn them over to the national park service. He was originally granted an option to buy by Hugh MacRae and Julian Morton, for $165,000. Kelsey never raised enough funds to buy.

1945: While on Luzon, Hugh is assigned to shoot General Douglas McArthur when his regular photographer is ill. He is injured by a Japanese boobytrap on a later date and is awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. Marries Julia Hathaway Taylor.

1948: President of the first Azalea Festival in Wilmington.

1949: Elected president of the Carolina Press Photographers Assoc.

1950: Meets Andy Griffith when he hires him to be the entertainment at a banquet for $25. A few weeks later, Griffith records "What it Was, Was Football." Hugh's grandfather Hugh MacRae dies.

1951: Appointed to state Board of Conservation and Development by Gov. Scott. Serves as chairman of the advertising committee, vice-chairman of the state parks committee and member of the mineral resources committee. Opposes the NPS when it wants to operate a chain of government-owned tourist accommodations along the Blue Ridge Parkway, opposes parkway tolls and opposes change in signs that drop all mention of private tourist accommodations.

1952: Hugh Morton inherits Grandfather Mountain. Creates Grandfather Development Co. to develop the mountain. Borrows $45,000 to extend the road to the top of the mountain and build the "Mile High Swinging Bridge" from the road to the top of the ridge, charging motorists $0.90. Along with his sister he develops Grandfather Golf and Country Club.

1953: Highway Commission suggests middle route for Blue Ridge Parkway.

1954: Park Service prepares to build last 7.7 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway, from Cone-Price Campground to Pineola, over Grandfather Mountain. Grandfather Mountain is condemned, but Morton fights until they build the Linn Cove Viaduct. In the 1980s, Black Rock bats are discovered along the road and would have been extinct if the Park Service had blasted the road.

1955: Hugh Morton orders engineers from NPS to take samples for a tunnel through his mountain. Since the state had already bought right-of-way for the road, the Highway Commission deeds the condemned land back to Hugh and proposes a middle route, which the NPS refuses.

1956: Hugh Morton serves as state campaign publicity manager for then Luther H. Hodges successful gubernatorial run.

1959: Elected to the board of the AAA Carolina Motor Club. Served a term as chairman. Will sit on board until 1998.

1961: State magazine names Hugh North Carolinian of the Year. Gov. Terry Sanford appoints him chairman on commission to bring the USS North Carolina to Wilmington. Raises $315,000 for the ship.

1962: Participates in a televised debate with Conrad Wirth, director of the NPS about the route of the Blue Ridge Parkway over Grandfather Mountain. Gov. Sanford says NC will not try to acquire a high route over Grandfather Mountain.

1963: The National Park Service officially rejects the proposal for a middle route.

1964: Gov. Dan K. Moore starts lobbying the NPS for a low or middle route.

1966: Gov. Moore and Secretary of the Interior Stuart Udall announce a compromise along a middle route. Mildred the Bear arrives at Grandfather Mountain.

1969: As a committee chair of the NC Travel Agency, Hugh Morton is asked to lobby the General Assembly to open NC to liquor-by-the-drink. He does, despite the fact that he doesn't drink, but it doesn't pass until 1978.

1971: Hugh Morton announces he will run for governor.

1972: Hugh Morton drops out of gubernatorial race because he can't outspend Skipper Bowles.

1974: Moves permanent residence to Linville.

1975: Opens an advertising and public relations firm in Greensboro and is president of the NC Sports Hall of Fame.

1977: Hunt asks Hugh to lead campaign to change state constitution to allow a governor to succeed himself. Hugh raises private funds and works on a publicity campaign for the issue, which the General Assembly passes.

1979: Receives Distinguished Service Medal from UNC GAA.

1981: Hunt asks Hugh and Charlotte banker CC Hope to run a publicity campaign in favor of a $.03 gas tax for road improvements. Morton suggests using Arthur Smith. The General Assembly passes the tax. Morton also joins the Congressional Club, Jesse Helms' fundraising group, to save the Cape Hatteras lighthouse.

1982: Morton is chairman on Governor's Advisory Committee on Travel and Tourism.

1983: Is asked to crown the 35th Azalea Queen and asks UNC freshman Michael Jordan to take his place. Jordan had scored the winning basket in the NCAA championship the week before.

1985: Takes photographs of General Westmoreland while he is suing CBS for libel. Westmoreland wanted photos that showed him as a normal, more loveable human being, not a 4-star general. Morton, along with Dottie Martin (NC's then-First Lady) convinces the Dept. of Transportation to begin the highway wildflower program.

1987: One of 5 appointed by Governor Hunt to plan the Blue Ridge Parkway completion ceremonies. BPS dedicates the Linn Cove Viaduct, finishing the parkway. The parkway association gives Morton the Eagle Award for promoting the road.

1988: Hugh Morton becomes increasingly worried about air pollution and meets NC State plant pathology and forestry professor Robert Bruck.

1993: Appointed by Governor Hunt to the Air Cargo Airport Authority Board of Directors, the state agency charged with building the Global TransPark. Conservationists and Linville residents are angered over plans to build a ski resort, civic center and shopping center on the Wilmor tract around Grandfather and Sugar Mountains, so Wilmor donates/sells 800 of the 900 acres to the NC Nature Conservancy. Mildred the Bear dies of old age.

1995: Hugh and Julia Morton celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Morton also is awarded the Citizen of the Carolinas Award from the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce.

1996: Hugh Morton is appointed to Governor Hunt's Year of the Mountains Commission, whose main goal is to get the state to purchase land along the Blue Ridge Parkway to stop encroaching development.

1997: Hugh Morton is awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award from UNC, the North Carolinian of the Year award from the NC Press Association and the Governor's Award form Leadership North Carolina. Wilmor Corp. develops the remaining 100 acres of the Wilmor Tract, much to the chagrin of neighbors.

1998: Morton is the third inductee into the Celebrate Wilmington! Walk of Fame.

1999: Morton rebuilds the Mile-High Swinging Bridge. Attends "Save Our State" meeting to talk about problems of air pollution from cars and coal-burning power plants. The Department of Transportation refuses to purchase land as the Year of the Mountains Commission recommends.

2000: Morton joins a group uniting mountain and coastal supporters to work together on separate regional environmental issues.

2002: Hugh Morton is awarded an honorary degree from Queens College.