Have you ever watched a movie and wondered if the scenic landscape was a real place or simply a Hollywood creation? Everything from horror flicks to suspense thrillers and romantic comedies seem to take place in locations that appear they're only real for the storyline, yet they can seem eerily familiar to moviegoers. In case you didn't know, many movies were filmed right here in North Carolina, and a number of our favorites were shot in Rutherford County. If a getaway that includes literally walking on the same ground as some of your favorite actors thrills your inner film geek, you're in luck! Starstruck moments and movie set scenery are only a short car ride away in the nearby foothills.
The incredible landscape and rock formations of Chimney Rock State Park have been home to some epic movie moments. Feeling a rise in your kinetic energy? Relive the Firestarter scene where Charlie (Drew Barrymore) and her dad (David Keith) go into the 'town' of Chimney Rock Lake to mail their letters to The Times. It actually took place at the park's stone-lined entrance. A few scenes from the movie were even shot at the state park bridge.
Does your inner movie bug trend a bit more toward the Native American hero side? Many of the scenes for The Last of the Mohicans (including the entire final 15 or so minutes of the film) were shot at Chimney Rock State Park. Climb or take the elevator to the top of Chimney Rock and look out onto the surrounding mountains and foothills. You'll see the sight (about halfway up the mountain above Chimney Rock Village) where the Huron tribe's village was located. Inspiration Point, Groundhog Slide, the Cliff Trail, & 'Nature's Showerbath' are all real locations along the park's trails through Chimney Rock and Hickory Nut Gorge where the movie's Huron tribe trod, and the climactic fight scene where Magua meets his death was actually shot at the top of Hickory Nut Falls.
Lake Lure is more than just a picturesque vacation spot. It has also played host to a number of blockbuster movie shoots. Scenes from Firestarter, My Fellow Americans, and A Breed Apart were all filmed in various areas of Lake Lure, and even some scenes from the 1958 cult classic Thunder Road were shot here.
One of the most well-known movies filmed in this beautiful location is the 1987 film Dirty Dancing. The area now known as Firefly Cove was the site of Kellerman's Resort, the golf scene took place on the 16th hole of Rumbling Bald Resort's Bald Mountain Golf Course, and even a few of the lake scenes took place here at Morse Park. Don't forget to stop by The 1927 Inn & Spa where the cast stayed while filming, and the main lobby of the Esmerelda Inn & Restaurant even has the original dance floor from Johnny (Patrick Swayze) & Baby's (Jennifer Grey) final dance. Each September, the Town of Lake Lure plays host to the annual Dirty Dancing Festival; where activities include watermelon carrying, dance lessons, and even a lake lift competition! The festival also supports the Swayze Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity that helps children & special needs adults pursue activities in the arts, sports, and animal therapies, so taking part in the movie memories and fun, is also a way to give back!
The 1987 indie film Rutherford County Line (aka Damon's Law) was not only filmed in Rutherfordton, it was also based on the actual life events of Damon Huskey (played by Earl Owensby), who served as Sheriff of Rutherford County for 24 years. The tale chronicles the time leading up to, and the aftermath of, the infamous 1979 murder of the Sherriff's brother, deputy sheriff Roy Huskey along with two other local officers. The town and its surrounding foothills were used extensively throughout the movie shoot to keep the storyline as real as possible. But Sheriff Huskey isn’t Rutherfordton’s only claim to cinematic fame. Scenes from the documentary 32-0 about the undefeated 1980 RS Central men’s basketball team were filmed here too.
No Popcorn Required
Hit the road and travel through the locations where the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis and Madeleine Stowe (Last of the Mohicans), Dan Aykroyd and James Garner (My Fellow Americans), Jerry Orbach (Dirty Dancing), and Kathleen Turner (A Breed Apart) have stayed and walked. While you’re at it, be sure to enjoy the views in the new 2019 movie SGT. Will Gardner; you’ll definitely recognize areas of Chimney Rock during his journey. Remember, the Rutherford County foothills are far more than just a hiking destination. Even Hollywood thinks so!