Blockbuster movie The Hunger Games, filmed in North Carolina, has made a hot new tourist spot at Henry River Mill Village, Eastern Burke County, just off Henry River Road.

Once you leave Interstate highway 40 you drive about a mile and right before you enter Catawba County you’ll find what is labeled in the movie “District 12”.

The village has about 20 empty buildings and has been abandoned for about 50 years. Burke County’s tourism director said that they expected it to become popular, “you just never know how popular. Burke County tourism is up 300 percent from last June.”

Last year, filmmakers used the site to portray District 12 and since the March premier of the move, hoards of fans have trekked from all over the country to see Katniss Everdeen’s home town first-hand.

“The Hunger Games” is based on Suzanne Collins’s best-selling young-adult dystopian novel. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic nation where children are selected by lottery each year to fight to the death.

The story’s heroine is Katniss, a 16-year-old who becomes District 12’s representative in the annual Hunger Games. District 12 is an impoverished region once known as Appalachia.”

The village was a mill town and dates back to 1905 where, for fifty years, the mill spun fine cotton yarn. Most of the 100 residents worked at the mill and lived rent–free in the mill houses and shopped at the company store. The village even used its own currency and generated its own electricity.

There was no indoor plumbing and some of the outhouses are still there among the 20 buildings that remain intact. By the mid 1960s it was mostly abandoned and in 1977 the mill burned down.

Mr Shepherd the 83-year old owner, who lives across the river from the site, says that the village is being vandalized and littered by the visitors. The letter “p” and part of an “a” are now missing from the painted signs on the building, leaving an 18-inch hole in the storefront.

Although no plans have been made, there’s an option for movie producers to film a few scenes of the sequal, “Catching Fire” at the village in the fall. By then there may be a new owner. Mr. Shepherd  who bought the village in 1975, has agreed to allow the Syfy Channe’s Hollywood Treasure reality show to auction it off on July 31. He wants a minimum of $1.4 million.

To read the article in more detail click on Charlotte Observer.

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