Pumpkins are the harbinger of fall in Illinois. Not only do the gloriously orange fruits decorate our homes and businesses, but we look forward to the aroma and taste of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving dinner. Pumpkin is also Illinois’ official state pie!
The history of canning pumpkins goes back over 100 years in central Illinois. It all began here in Eureka in 1902 when the Dickinson and Company canning factory made a small experimental pack of canned pumpkin. The company, which had been established in 1898, already packed corn, beans, and tomatoes. However, wishing to extend the canning season, they decided to try adding pumpkin to the roster. It was a success. Dickinson and Company continued to expand their business holdings, adding a plant in Washington in 1909 and Morton in 1925.
Librarian Cindy O'Neill loves researching local history! She has extensive experience in historical research, genealogy, and archival resource management. She previously worked in the archaeology and museum fields and has Master's degrees in both history and library science. Recent local history projects include a history of the Eureka Pumpkin Festival, the creation of a digital archive of festival photos and memorabilia on the Illinois Digital Archives website, and an architectural history of the Eureka Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).