Armchair photo tours: Murray’s Mill Historic District in Catawba County, North Carolina

Photos by Cheryl Landes

The Murray’s Mill Historic District along the banks of Balls Creek in eastern Catawba County, North Carolina, is a journey back in time.

Explore Murray’s Mill, built in 1913, where a 28-foot waterwheel still slowly turns at the side of the two-story building and a pond spills water over a mill dam.


Stop into the Murray & Minges General Store from the 1890s to shop for old-fashioned toys, candies, and local food and crafts. Grab an ice-cold bottle of soda from an antique Coca-Cola refrigerator. If you like cherry cola, try North Carolina’s version called Cheerwine. I prefer Cheerwine over most cherry colas, because it isn’t as sweet, which makes it more refreshing.


Take your soda outside, sit on the porch swing in front of the store, sip, and relax while enjoying the picturesque view. Or sit at one of the nine picnic tables under the oak trees next to the store.

The wheathouse, a two-story building dating to the 1880s, was used to store grain. Today, it’s a gallery that has an exhibit about local textile making and a barn loom. The original grain hopper and elevator used to move wheat to the attic are still inside.

The John Murray House, built in 1913, contains period furnishings. It’s open only for special events and the annual Harvest Folk Festival in late September.

Three generations of the Murray family ran the mill, the last in operation in the county, until closing it in 1967. The Catawba County Historical Association began restoring the buildings in 1980 and open them to the public to tour in 1988.

Today’s tour explores the mill. I passed through here early in the morning, so the general store and wheathouse weren’t open.


Murray’s Mill Historic District is on the National Historic Register. It’s located 39 miles north of Charlotte.

Get updates on events at the Murray’s Mill Historic District Facebook page.


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