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Houlka, Mississippi: Unique Location For Movie Set

Updated on June 24, 2019
Gerry Glenn Jones profile image

Gerry Glenn Jones is a writer of fiction and nonfiction, as well as scripts for theatre and film. This is a factual article.

Introduction to Houlka, Mississippi

Are you a filmmaker, or do you know a filmmaker who is in search of the perfect small town in which to shoot a film without having to make vast changes to the town's structural persona? Well, you don't have to look any further than a small town, located in Northeast, Mississippi.

Walker Street
Walker Street | Source

Potential as a Movie Set

This town and its people would make a magical backdrop for a feature film that could be shot for a fraction of the cost that other towns and cities would require. If you check out the photos, you will see the potential of this town, which could be a working set with a range from the turn of the century to the progress of today.

Old city hall and jail
Old city hall and jail | Source

Range of Usable Time Periods

The natural, and largely unchanged structural skeleton and exterior of the downtown buildings and geographical location allow for a wide selection of time periods that could fall within a range from the early 20th century to the present 21st century without major photographic editing.

Walker Street
Walker Street | Source

Old Houlka and Then New Houlka

This town is the second generation of the name Houlka, a Chickasaw Indian name meaning "low water." The first town was built at the crossroads of the old Natchez Trace and Gaines Trace, about 100 miles southeast of Memphis, Tennessee. In the early part of the 20th century, the railroad chose to lay tracks a mile west of the original town, due to the lay of the land. When this happened, the people of the town moved with it.

Walker Street
Walker Street | Source

New Houlka's Connection to The Panama Canal

In 1906, the "Town of New Houlka" was incorporated, where the railroad had decided to build its tracks, and some of the buildings were rolled on logs from Old Houlka to New Houlka. Most of these were pulled by teams of oxen. This railroad was built by the great-grandfather of the author, William Faulkner. This was a new beginning for Houlka, and it thrived. A mill was later built here, that sawed the virgin timbers that were so numerous, west of the town, and one of the first ships to pass through the Panama Canal, carried a load of Black Walnut timber, milled at Houlka.

5th Avenue
5th Avenue | Source

Railroad Closing Causes Decline in Prosperity

New Houlka thrived through the years but began to decline in population and businesses when the railroad closed that section of its line in the 1980s. Since that time Houlka began to lose businesses and population to other more prosperous cities, but some the people of this southern town dug their heels in and refused to leave the peaceful community of friends and family.

Walker Street
Walker Street | Source

Leaders Push for The Rebirth of The Town's Economy

This same determination is still alive in the town today and town leaders are looking for ways to fill the vacant buildings that once were the nucleus of business in New Houlka. It still has the presence of turn-of-the-century brickwork in many of its buildings around the town square and exhumes a very nostalgic presence.

Interior of old jail
Interior of old jail | Source

Tanglefoot Trail

As of September 2012, a new beginning seemed in store for the town which has had so much history. The railroad corridor which was the vitamin for Houlka's growth is providing another rejuvenation to the region. A federal project, called "Rails to Trails" turned a 44.5-mile corridor into a paved scenic trail called "Tanglefoot Trail," which is open to hikers, runners, bicyclists and horseback travel, from New Albany, Mississippi. to Houston, Mississippi.

Old city hall and jail
Old city hall and jail | Source

My New Houlka

As an actor and writer, as well as a person who is proud to say he grew up in and around this town, I will forever proclaim to be a Houlkaonian at heart. This love for the old town and its history will always make it special to me, and I would love to see it get some of its original status back by being the backdrop for filmmakers to seize this opportunity and make their movies here.

Interior of old city hall
Interior of old city hall | Source

Contact For Filmmakers

If any filmmakers are interested in shooting their film in the Town of New Houlka, you may email this writer at for more information.

© 2019 Gerry Glenn Jones


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