Roadside Buzz – Henry River Mill Village: aka: “District 12” in the Hunger Games ~ Burke County, NC
Just outside of Hildebran, North Carolina on Henry River Road, about 1/2 mile from exit 119 near Hickory sits the abandoned Henry River Mill Village. The community isn’t a recent victim of economic woes, but a remnant of a bygone error. It is also the site chosen to serve as the deprecated District 12 in the movie The Hunger Games.
According to locals, as well as some modest signage, the Henry River Mill Village was built as a company town for a textile mill that operated on the Henry River. Constructed around 1904, the town started with great promise, but when the Mill closed in 1907, the entire population of the town was put out of work. In short order the 35 or so homes and stores in Henry Mill were abandoned and life continued on. Today 20 of the homes and other buildings, including the 2-story brick company store still stand: although they are a little worse for ware.
In 2011, Western North Carolina was chosen as the filming location for the Suzanne Collins’ best selling novel The Hunger Games. Henry Mill Village was selected as the home of the novel’s heroin Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence in the films. The Village became was transformed, although only slightly, into District 12, a dreary futuristic area in the fictional nation of Panem.
If you’re interested in a piece of Americana history or just want to visit Henry Mill to see where the hero of the Hunger Games was reared, you should stop by this free roadside attraction and take a stroll. Note, however that while the structures are generally open to peruse, they are over 100 years old and likely a little unsafe. So proceed with caution.