Where is Rust Creek Located? Is Fording a Real County in Kentucky?

Jen McGowan’s crime thriller ‘Rust Creek’ takes place deep in the woods of the Appalachian Forest in Kentucky. Sawyer Scott’s efforts to escape from Buck and Hollister, two drug dealers who chase her believing that she is a witness to a murder they committed, leads her to the titular creek. As Sawyer seeks refuge in the house of Lowell, a meth cook and a cousin of the brothers who try to hunt her down, Fording County Sheriff James O’Doyle gets forced to find and kill her to hide his connection with the drug dealers. Rust Creek and Fording County are integral parts of Sawyer’s survival tale but they are fictional!

Rust Creek’s Real-Life Counterpart

Rust Creek is a tributary Stu Pollard and Julie Lipson, the film’s writers, conceived for the crime thriller. The creek is prominently featured in the film after Lowell finds Sawyer in the woods. He takes her to the creek while cooking meth. At the end of the movie, Sheriff O’Doyle explains the history behind the creek to her before trying to kill her by drowning her in the tributary. Even though the creek is fictional, a real one doubles for the same in ‘Rust Creek.’ The fight scene between Sawyer and O’Doyle was shot in the waters of Floyds Fork, a tributary of the Salt River in Kentucky.

The 62-mile-long tributary begins in Henry County and joins the Salt River near Shepherdsville in Bullitt County. It flows through Jefferson County, one of the movie’s main locations. Floyds Fork also connects four major parks in Louisville, collectively known as “The Parklands of Floyds Fork.” The tributary unifies the nearly 4,000-acre park system in the city. Since the film was shot between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the weather was chilly, and shooting the sequences in the tributary was “uncomfortable” for the Kentucky-based crew.

The Fictional Fording County

Fording County is a fictional county in Kentucky located between Danville and Interstate 64. In reality, the scenes set in the region were mainly shot right outside Louisville. “We shot most in Louisville and surrounding areas. We based it in Louisville, and our primary location, which was a massive private property—like the size of a national park—was about 30 minutes outside of Louisville,” Jen McGowan told Film Threat. Several places in the nearby region are featured in the crime thriller. These include Fern Creek, a neighborhood of Louisville; St. Matthews in Jefferson County; and Iroquois Park, a municipal park in Louisville.

McGowan was even attentive about the woods in the film. “So, we shot outside of Louisville, KY, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then we went back for about a week of pick up, about a month later. It was really important to me that there was a visual progression in the woods we were filming,” the filmmaker told No Film School. The Kentucky counties that appear in the movie also include Boyle, Bullitt, and Franklin. The creative heads behind the film chose Kentucky as the counterpart of Fording County because of the weather in the state. In the film, Sawyer’s efforts to survive become emotionally moving because of the cold she has to deal with. She gets trapped in the woods without the necessary clothes or other essentials while the temperature drops.

While filming the movie, the temperature dropped to seven degrees, helping McGowan to capture Sawyer’s plight. Pollard considers the Kentucky setting an integral part of the film he co-wrote. The weather factor explains why the Bluegrass state was selected as the setting and location instead of Maryland, where the incident that inspired the narrative unfolded in real life. “[The] setting is so important in this film that it almost becomes a character of its own,” Pollard told The Courier-Journal.

Read More: Rust Creek Ending, Explained