Henry River Mill Village, North Carolina

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Henry River Mill Village
Village (ghost town)
Henry River Mill is located in North Carolina
Henry River Mill
Henry River Mill
Location in the state of North Carolina
Coordinates: 35°41′45.6″N 81°25′44.4″W / 35.696000°N 81.429000°W / 35.696000; -81.429000Coordinates: 35°41′45.6″N 81°25′44.4″W / 35.696000°N 81.429000°W / 35.696000; -81.429000
Country United States
State North Carolina
County Burke

Henry River Mill Village is a small textile village in Burke County, North Carolina. It is an unaltered but now-decaying example of an early industrial environment in Burke County. Today the remaining buildings of the Henry River mill village are traces of the industrial heritage of the county.

Built as a planned community, the village was a self-contained complex with its own mill, dam, water and fire-protection systems, and company store. In later years the village gained amenities such as walkways, terraced green spaces, and field stone retaining walls. Today most of the village's original buildings remain sited along a small gorge of the Henry River, just west of Catawba County, North Carolina. The site is private property but can be driven through via Henry River Road. It is located a short distance from Interstate 40 via an exit near Hildebran.


20th century[edit]

In 1904 Michael Erastus Rudisill laid out the mill and village on a 1,500-acre tract, chosen for its hydro power potential. Rudisill, along with his brother Albert Pinkney Rudisill, built the village and engineered the dam and mill building along with David William Aderholdt, Miles R. Rudisill, and Marcus Lafayette Aderholdt. The mill was incorporated as the Henry River Manufacturing Company. The company manufactured fine cotton yarns. Beginning in 1905, a 30-foot reinforced concrete dam was constructed with a three-story brick mill building. In its early years, the mill operated 4,000 yarn-making spindles. By the time it shut down in the late 1960s, the mill had 12,000 spindles and produced fine combed yarn for lace. The mill building burned in 1977.

The residential area of the village consisted of approximately 35 small worker's cottages. Twenty-one are still standing today. These 1-1/2 story duplex houses were laid out along the steep contours of the river's northern bank. The workers lived in boarding houses or workers' cottages built by the company, which were leased at nominal fees.

Around 1907 the four mill owners, the Rudisills and the Aderholdts, built new homes for themselves just outside the village. Although one burned in 1935, three of the four houses are still standing today.

Since the loss of the main mill building, the centerpiece of the village today is the two-story brick company store building. This building served as a mill office with the upper floor used as a school room and for church services from 1907-1917.

In 1912 a steel truss bridge engineered by the Rudisills was built across the Henry River. When built, it was reputed to be the highest bridge in the state. During the 1916 flood this bridge was one of the few not destroyed. In 1960 a new concrete bridge replaced the steel truss bridge.

The Henry River Mill originally ran on waterpower. In 1914 a steam plant was installed then in 1926, the mill was converted to electric power. The mill was closed for several years and was purchased by Wade K. Shepherd in 1976. Equipment and materials were stored in the mill building when it burned in 1977.

21st century[edit]

The mill and village were put on the North Carolina Study List of the National Register of Historic Places. Late in 2002, through the Burke County Partners in Economic Development's Heritage Preservation Committee, efforts began to explore development of the historic site.

The 72 acre village was a filming location of "District 12" scenes of the 2012 film The Hunger Games.[1][2] In the wake of the film's release, The SyFy Channel’s show “Hollywood Treasure” estimated the value of the property at more than $1.2 million in 2012[3] and took bids (unsuccessfully) to sell it. A book about the town and its people was published in 2012.[4] In 2017, the abandoned property was purchased by local residents whose vision is to create a "Henry River Mill Village Business District" to highlight the history of the site.[5]


General references[edit]

  • Mickie Vacca, "Voice of the Foothills" Newspaper, February 2003
  • Lauren Williamson, The News Herald, Morganton, NC—March 27, 2005
  • Sharon McBrayer, Hickory Daily Record, Hickory, NC - May 9, 2011

Specific citations[edit]

  1. ^ Hunger Games: Philip Messina. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
  2. ^ Wineka, Mark (2018-09-26). "Once a 'Hunger Games' backdrop, mill village still a treasure for images, memories". Salisbury Post. Retrieved 2018-09-26.
  3. ^ McBrayer, Sharon. "No bids offered to buy Henry River Mill Village". HDR | Hickory Daily Record. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  4. ^ Callihan, Nicole; Keller, Ruby Young (2012). Henry River Mill Village. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0738592501. LCCN 2011944677.
  5. ^ Willis, Emily. "New Henry River Mill Village owners focus on renovating property with community's help". HDR | Hickory Daily Record. Retrieved 2018-07-27.