Henry River Mill Village – The Hunger Games District 12 – Hickory, NC

 

Katniss Everdeen sits in a cold room, comforting her sister Primrose who just woke up from a nightmare. After singing Prim a song, and confronting their scraggly cat, Buttercup, Katniss dons a worn leather jacket and dashes out of her house. Making her way through the ramshackle town of District 12, we see the rustic and dilapidated buildings that the fictional residents call home. She continues running down an embankment, past concrete ruins, and across an old dam before she finally reaches a broken-down electric fence at the edge of town. Fans of the Hunger Games movie will know this sequence well, but what many may not know, is that this was filmed at a real-world location called Henry River Mill Village, just outside of Hickory, North Carolina.

 

Once a thriving mill town from the turn of the century until the 1970s, Henry River Mill Village sat abandoned outside Hickory, NC until recently. It was used in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen's hometown of District 12. Now it's owned by Calvin and Melissa Reyes, who are restoring the village, giving tours, and lovingly preserving its wonderful history. (Walter Arnold Photography LLC)

 

Once a thriving mill town from the turn of the century until the 1970s, Henry River Mill Village sat abandoned outside Hickory, NC until recently. It was used in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen's hometown of District 12. Now it's owned by Calvin and Melissa Reyes, who are restoring the village, giving tours, and lovingly preserving its wonderful history. (Walter Arnold Photography LLC)

 

Still from The Hungers Games movie (2012) ©Lionsgate Studios

Still from The Hungers Games movie (2012) ©Lionsgate Studios

Once a thriving mill town from the turn of the century until the 1970s, Henry River Mill Village sat abandoned outside Hickory, NC until recently. It was used in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen's hometown of District 12. Now it's owned by Calvin and Melissa Reyes, who are restoring the village, giving tours, and lovingly preserving its wonderful history. (Walter Arnold)

 

Once a thriving mill town from the turn of the century until the 1970s, Henry River Mill Village sat abandoned outside Hickory, NC until recently. It was used in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen's hometown of District 12. Now it's owned by Calvin and Melissa Reyes, who are restoring the village, giving tours, and lovingly preserving its wonderful history. (Walter Arnold Photography LLC)

 

Located on the Henry Fork in Hildebran, North Carolina, Henry River Mill Village was established in 1902. Selected for its energy producing potential on the river, the rural mill village occupies 72 acres and runs along the steep slopes of the two-lane Henry River Road. In addition to the mill, the village was originally comprised of 35 wood frame houses, a two-story brick company store, and a two-story wood frame boarding house. The residential houses were one or one-and-a-half-story single family residences and duplexes. The tin-roof homes required outhouses as there was no indoor plumbing.

 

Once a thriving mill town from the turn of the century until the 1970s, Henry River Mill Village sat abandoned outside Hickory, NC until recently. It was used in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen's hometown of District 12. Now it's owned by Calvin and Melissa Reyes, who are restoring the village, giving tours, and lovingly preserving its wonderful history. (Walter Arnold)

 

The mill itself was one of the last major cotton mills to be water powered. Construction was completed and the mill was fully operational by 1905. A brick building standing three-stories tall, the mill sported 4,000 spindles that produced carded yarn. Over the years they upgraded to steam, and then electric power by 1926. By the 1940s the mill employed 125 people, operating 10,300 spindles with a weekly production output of around 15,000 pounds of combed yarns.


Image Courtesy of The Henry River Mill Village Friends & Family (Various Sources)

Image Courtesy of The Henry River Mill Village Friends & Family (Various Sources)

 

The Henry River mill produced fine grade yarns that were used in making lace, gloves, and electrical insulation. Since much of their product was shipped up to the Northeast, I have to wonder if some of it might have made its way to the Scranton Lace Company  which I photographed some years ago. You can read about and see the images from the Scranton Lace Company HERE.

 

Image Courtesy of The Henry River Mill Village Friends & Family (Various Sources)

 

Image Courtesy of The Henry River Mill Village Friends & Family (Various Sources)

 

Henry River Mill Village was a self-contained, close-knit community (pun intended). Long working shifts, low pay, and scant luxuries made for a difficult existence. Out of necessity, residents hand-crafted many of the items they needed and grew as much of their own food as possible. They would supplement these with goods and provisions from the on-site company store. Residents had to use company credits, or scrip at the store, and change was given in the form of “Doogaloo”, zinc coins or tokens specifically minted for the Henry River Mill Company. This form of currency exchange was quite common in this era across many different industries. It offered a way for companies to exert social control and tie down employees, keeping them working and spending with them in a vicious cycle.

 

Image Courtesy of The Henry River Mill Village Friends & Family (Various Sources)

 

The two-story brick building in the center of the village served as the company store and mill offices. It was essentially an entire downtown rolled into one building. Clothing store, grocery, bank, post office, school, church, meeting place–this was the hub. Even the bricks that were used to build it were made on-site.

 

Once a thriving mill town from the turn of the century until the 1970s, Henry River Mill Village sat abandoned outside Hickory, NC until recently. It was used in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen's hometown of District 12. Now it's owned by Calvin and Melissa Reyes, who are restoring the village, giving tours, and lovingly preserving its wonderful history. (Walter Arnold Photography LLC)

 

Once a thriving mill town from the turn of the century until the 1970s, Henry River Mill Village sat abandoned outside Hickory, NC until recently. It was used in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen's hometown of District 12. Now it's owned by Calvin and Melissa Reyes, who are restoring the village, giving tours, and lovingly preserving its wonderful history. (Walter Arnold Photography LLC)

 

Still from The Hungers Games movie (2012) ©Lionsgate Studios

 

Image Courtesy of The Henry River Mill Village Friends & Family (Various Sources)

Image Courtesy of The Henry River Mill Village Friends & Family (Various Sources)

 

Once a thriving mill town from the turn of the century until the 1970s, Henry River Mill Village sat abandoned outside Hickory, NC until recently. It was used in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen's hometown of District 12. Now it's owned by Calvin and Melissa Reyes, who are restoring the village, giving tours, and lovingly preserving its wonderful history. (Walter Arnold Photography LLC)

 

Once a thriving mill town from the turn of the century until the 1970s, Henry River Mill Village sat abandoned outside Hickory, NC until recently. It was used in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen's hometown of District 12. Now it's owned by Calvin and Melissa Reyes, who are restoring the village, giving tours, and lovingly preserving its wonderful history. (Walter Arnold Photography LLC)

 

Once a thriving mill town from the turn of the century until the 1970s, Henry River Mill Village sat abandoned outside Hickory, NC until recently. It was used in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen's hometown of District 12. Now it's owned by Calvin and Melissa Reyes, who are restoring the village, giving tours, and lovingly preserving its wonderful history. (Walter Arnold Photography LLC)

 

Once a thriving mill town from the turn of the century until the 1970s, Henry River Mill Village sat abandoned outside Hickory, NC until recently. It was used in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen's hometown of District 12. Now it's owned by Calvin and Melissa Reyes, who are restoring the village, giving tours, and lovingly preserving its wonderful history. (Walter Arnold Photography LLC)

 

 

 

 

Am I the only one who finds it weird that Pinesol can be used INTERNALLY??

 

 

 

 

Once a thriving mill town from the turn of the century until the 1970s, Henry River Mill Village sat abandoned outside Hickory, NC until recently. It was used in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen's hometown of District 12. Now it's owned by Calvin and Melissa Reyes, who are restoring the village, giving tours, and lovingly preserving its wonderful history. (Walter Arnold Photography LLC)

 

Once a thriving mill town from the turn of the century until the 1970s, Henry River Mill Village sat abandoned outside Hickory, NC until recently. It was used in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen's hometown of District 12. Now it's owned by Calvin and Melissa Reyes, who are restoring the village, giving tours, and lovingly preserving its wonderful history. (Walter Arnold Photography LLC)

 

The mill closed in 1970, with several attempts to restart the operation failing over the subsequent years. In 1977, the mill was destroyed in a fire caused by a suspected lightning strike. More than 75 firefighters fought the blaze which ravaged the mill and reduced it to its concrete foundations. A handful of families remained in the mill village through the late 1970s, but they eventually dispersed, leaving behind a ghost town of buildings slowly falling into disrepair.

 

Image Courtesy of The Henry River Mill Village Friends & Family (Various Sources)

 

Fifteen of the original thirty-five millhouses have been demolished over time, but the remaining twenty homes along the road, and scattered around the property preserve the village’s distinct visual character and uniformity. While the houses within the village are deteriorating, they offer a relatively unaltered example of an early twentieth-century rural mill village.

 

Once a thriving mill town from the turn of the century until the 1970s, Henry River Mill Village sat abandoned outside Hickory, NC until recently. It was used in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen's hometown of District 12. Now it's owned by Calvin and Melissa Reyes, who are restoring the village, giving tours, and lovingly preserving its wonderful history. (Walter Arnold Photography LLC)

 

Once a thriving mill town from the turn of the century until the 1970s, Henry River Mill Village sat abandoned outside Hickory, NC until recently. It was used in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen's hometown of District 12. Now it's owned by Calvin and Melissa Reyes, who are restoring the village, giving tours, and lovingly preserving its wonderful history. (Walter Arnold Photography LLC)

 

Once a thriving mill town from the turn of the century until the 1970s, Henry River Mill Village sat abandoned outside Hickory, NC until recently. It was used in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen's hometown of District 12. Now it's owned by Calvin and Melissa Reyes, who are restoring the village, giving tours, and lovingly preserving its wonderful history. (Walter Arnold Photography LLC)

 

Once a thriving mill town from the turn of the century until the 1970s, Henry River Mill Village sat abandoned outside Hickory, NC until recently. It was used in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen's hometown of District 12. Now it's owned by Calvin and Melissa Reyes, who are restoring the village, giving tours, and lovingly preserving its wonderful history. (Walter Arnold Photography LLC)

 

Once a thriving mill town from the turn of the century until the 1970s, Henry River Mill Village sat abandoned outside Hickory, NC until recently. It was used in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen's hometown of District 12. Now it's owned by Calvin and Melissa Reyes, who are restoring the village, giving tours, and lovingly preserving its wonderful history. (Walter Arnold)

 

Once a thriving mill town from the turn of the century until the 1970s, Henry River Mill Village sat abandoned outside Hickory, NC until recently. It was used in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen's hometown of District 12. Now it's owned by Calvin and Melissa Reyes, who are restoring the village, giving tours, and lovingly preserving its wonderful history. (Walter Arnold)

 

Once a thriving mill town from the turn of the century until the 1970s, Henry River Mill Village sat abandoned outside Hickory, NC until recently. It was used in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen's hometown of District 12. Now it's owned by Calvin and Melissa Reyes, who are restoring the village, giving tours, and lovingly preserving its wonderful history. (Walter Arnold)

 

Once a thriving mill town from the turn of the century until the 1970s, Henry River Mill Village sat abandoned outside Hickory, NC until recently. It was used in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen's hometown of District 12. Now it's owned by Calvin and Melissa Reyes, who are restoring the village, giving tours, and lovingly preserving its wonderful history. (Walter Arnold)

 

Once a thriving mill town from the turn of the century until the 1970s, Henry River Mill Village sat abandoned outside Hickory, NC until recently. It was used in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen's hometown of District 12. Now it's owned by Calvin and Melissa Reyes, who are restoring the village, giving tours, and lovingly preserving its wonderful history. (Walter Arnold Photography LLC)

 

In 2011 the village was selected as the location for District 12 in the movie adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. The company store became the bakery where Peeta worked out of, and the rest of the houses and site depicted the dilapidated coal mining town. One of the old mill houses was destroyed–blown-up during filming. One house was used in the film for the interior of Katniss’ home. It was the only house where they filmed inside. Some of the house was gutted then refitted to suit the film’s needs.

 

Once a thriving mill town from the turn of the century until the 1970s, Henry River Mill Village sat abandoned outside Hickory, NC until recently. It was used in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen's hometown of District 12. Now it's owned by Calvin and Melissa Reyes, who are restoring the village, giving tours, and lovingly preserving its wonderful history. (Walter Arnold Photography LLC)

Katniss’s House

Once a thriving mill town from the turn of the century until the 1970s, Henry River Mill Village sat abandoned outside Hickory, NC until recently. It was used in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen's hometown of District 12. Now it's owned by Calvin and Melissa Reyes, who are restoring the village, giving tours, and lovingly preserving its wonderful history. (Walter Arnold Photography LLC)

Katniss’s House

Once a thriving mill town from the turn of the century until the 1970s, Henry River Mill Village sat abandoned outside Hickory, NC until recently. It was used in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen's hometown of District 12. Now it's owned by Calvin and Melissa Reyes, who are restoring the village, giving tours, and lovingly preserving its wonderful history. (Walter Arnold Photography LLC)

Katniss’s House

 

In 2017 Calvin and Melissa Reyes, along with his mother and step-father, Elaine and Michael Namour, purchased Henry River Mill Village. They have dedicated themselves to preserving, restoring, and educating people on the significance of the village. To help support their significant efforts, they offer tours of the property. People from all over the country come to visit, learn, explore, and even spend the night in a beautifully restored millhouse on the sprawling site.

 

Fully restoring one of the old millhouses was an enormous endeavor, one that was lovingly filmed and documented by the TV series “In With the Old” on the Magnolia Network. Staying overnight in this beautifully restored home, is a truly unique way to connect with the village’s history. I spent a total of 5 nights in the house over the course of two separate visits, and I cannot recommend it enough! It’s also a great way to directly support the family’s ongoing goals of preserving and restoring the entire village.

 

Once a thriving mill town from the turn of the century until the 1970s, Henry River Mill Village sat abandoned outside Hickory, NC until recently. It was used in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen's hometown of District 12. Now it's owned by Calvin and Melissa Reyes, who are restoring the village, giving tours, and lovingly preserving its wonderful history. (Walter Arnold Photography LLC)

Restored Millhouse #12

Restored Millhouse #12 – Image Courtesy of Henry River Mill Village

Restored Millhouse #12 – Image Courtesy of Henry River Mill Village

Restored Millhouse #12 – Image Courtesy of Henry River Mill Village

There is so much to discover at Henry River Mill Village. So many stories to uncover, and interesting bits of history to learn. Even after spending 5 days exploring and photographing there, there is still much more to be found. I could write so much more on this blog about the people that lived here, their lives and their stories, but part of the joy is discovering it for yourself as you wander around and explore the village. Calvin, his family and friends, all take such great joy in sharing these stories full of intimate details, preserving them for generations to come, and integrating them into every nook and cranny as they lovingly preserve and restore this beautiful piece of history.

 

CLICK HERE to learn more or book a visit/stay  and check out the amenities of the restored millhouse. Typically, they are open 7 days a week, but hours may vary by season. They offer after dark tours, ghost tours, weddings, group tours, outdoor movies, on site catering for events, and much more. They will treat you like family, so don’t hesitate to call or email them with any questions!

 

Henry River Mill Village
4255 Henry River Road
Hickory, NC 28602
(828) 471-4768
henryrivermillvillage.com

Once a thriving mill town from the turn of the century until the 1970s, Henry River Mill Village sat abandoned outside Hickory, NC until recently. It was used in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen's hometown of District 12. Now it's owned by Calvin and Melissa Reyes, who are restoring the village, giving tours, and lovingly preserving its wonderful history. (Walter Arnold)

 

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