Sunday, May 29, 2011

Driving Through Henry River Mill: Where HUNGER GAMES was filmed

Last week, I talked hubby into riding with me past the filming location of The Hunger Games. It's close to home and over the years (ahem - decades!) I've spent some time there exploring the property, drooling over the old buildings and imagining their history.

There were once about 34 homes in the Henry River Mill Village.
Since it closed in the 60's or 70's many of the houses have been stuffed with boxes left over from the hill's former life as a sock factory village. If you want more pics go to my guest post at Carol Baldwin's blog.  There's also a link there for a great Henry River Mill website.

I was curious about the filming but not so curious that I would make a fool of myself looking for movie stars. I do love behind-the-scenes operations though and would loved to have seen a little movie making in action. But I didn't expect that. I wasn't sure I'd see anyone since I half expected the road to be closed.

But it 's a public road so after filming for the day they opened it.   Mostly we saw equipment and trucks blocking our view!  I'm sure that was purely accidental! : ) 
They probably thought people like me come by looking for a glimpse of famous people but honestly, I don't even know who's starring. I've seen the names somewhere but it's all Greek to me!
Not the usual abandoned and beautiful sight we're used to around here. Most days you might see an occasional car go by but never will you see them lined along the road like this.
There were people milling about after hours including a policeman - smiling and motioning us on. I did not take his picture! Or anyone's.

The Old Company Story photo by my sister, Joanne Hunsberger
Rumor has it that the company store became The Bakery for the film.

They added a roof to the lower front section.
Photo by Joanne Hunsberger

And yet another view of the store because it is so gorgeous and intriguing. I read (online) that there used to be a school upstairs for the children of the village.

At one time there were dozens - or maybe hundreds - of mill villages scattered across North Carolina.  I can think of three such villages within ten miles of my home. They each had their own personality.  And of course each held its own share of human drama - love and heartbreak, moonshine and murder.  Obviously a mill village would make a great setting for some historical fiction.

Photo by Joanne Hunsberger.  Love the lighting in this pic!
I've met a few North Carolina authors who are working on stories about mill villages. My fingers are crossed for each of them!

And now I see that Kim Church is writing about the 1929 Textile Strike in Gastonia, NC.  (speaking of murder!) She blogged about Henry River Mill Hill recently.  Her work in progress is called Mill Mother's Song.  So if you are intrigued as I am about mill village life - you might want to follow her blog.  And I will definitely be watching for that novel!

If you'd like to see what I saw driving through Henry River Mill hill take a look at this video. I di d not film this - just grabbed it off YouTube.  The author of this movie drove through 3 times so you might want to hop out of the car after the first pass.  Nothing much changes on the second and third times.  But if you're feeling obsessive about Hunger Games, well then enjoy the ride!


  1. Having read The Hunger Games, this looks like a perfect spot for the village the main character comes from. But it is still so sad to see an abandoned town, I think. Thanks for the great pictures though.

  2. Hi Alex - I haven't read any the books myself. Amazing, I know! So I keep wondering how this fits. I do realize it is dystopian literature and I'm starting to think I must read!

    There are some dreams of having this place restored so if you have some extra bucks you want to throw to a great cause, well, now you know what to do with them!

  3. So many places, so many stories to write. I don't think there is enough time in this life to write them all! I'll have to check out the historical fiction about mill life. I dream of doing one like that for Charlotte... "So many places.." I haven't read Hunger Games, but now I must add that to the reading list too! thanks for including me in this.

  4. This evokes feelings of sadness and intrique. I noticed "wash on the line" in the third pass. I assume this was for filming purposes. Even though I grew up there I don't remember traveling that road too much or it just didn't catch my attention like some of others. May have to do a ride by next time I am in town.

  5. Carol - yes so many stories.

    Settings often make me want to write a story but in the end I usually find that I need the human element to make the story fly.

    I know you've found a great story in Charlotte. Can't wait to read it after all your research!

    Jeannie - I don't know that we were familiar with this place as kids. I think it was still in operation but we didn't drive up that way very often. Next time you come, we'll have to check it out together.

  6. Joyce, LOVED this post. No doubt, these old mill villages are intriguiing and seem to be enticing writers to tell stories from an era of Southern history that's largely been ignored, especially in fiction. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Hi Candy - great to hear from you. And glad you like the post!

    Would love an update on your work. How was Rutgers One-on-One?

    My email is moyergirl at charter dot net

  8. So interesting. We can find a good story most anywhere we look, can't we?


  9. Jean - I agree - stories are everywhere - waiting to be discovered. Waiting to be told. Thanks for joining the little Henry River tour.

  10. I grew up in a mill village in NC. Cordova, NC. I lived in a mill house my whole life...and wouldn't change a thing about it. There is something comforting and unique about growing up there. My mom still lives there, most of my family, too. I don't know how I would feel if it were ever "abandoned". I think I would go through a huge time of grieving!

    And btw - my oldest will be very jealous that you live near where the Hunger games are being filmed!

  11. Oh, Donna - such memories you must have! Very cool! And so neat that people still live there. One of our local mill villages is torn down. Henry River is abandoned. A third mill is closed but the houses are all occupied. It has a LOT of houses!

    I believe they have finished filming in our area. Moved on to Shelby last I heard.

    And I think they are using several other NC locations as well. Say hello to your oldest for me!

  12. There's something haunting about a forgotten town. I think there must be a story here for you, too, Joyce. At least the setting--and a little of your fine-eye for research would surely turn up an emotional connection and a character who has a story.

  13. Hi Clara - oh I have wanted to include this place in a story. It does have so many possibilities. At the moment I am feeling that since I know several other NC writers are shopping mill stories around, I may as well focus on Germany!

    But one never knows! When the Muse speaks I like to listen!

  14. Wow! I am all about this sort of visit. This is a town I would love to drive through just to imagine...I always imagine tales of what was in places like this. I love it!

    And it looks perfect for the Hunger Games.

    I would love to see it restored to a lovely little town. It's like the ghosts I write about—often misunderstood and neglected.

    Thanks for sharing this, Joyce.

  15. I enjoyed reading this entry about Henry River Mill. The mill was built by my great grandfather, David William Aderholdt back in 1903. My grandmother was born in the main house and began her schooling in the school room over the store, where they also attended church until they built the church in Hildebran. I am researching the place for my own book now.

    Thanks for loving the site!

    Joy Coe