Matt and Ross Duffer, creators of the hit Netflix series “Stranger Things” and Durham natives, have often said their work is inspired by the ’80s movies and books they admired growing up.
Think: “The Goonies,” “E.T. the Extraterrestrial,” Stephen King’s “It” and “Stand by Me.”
Those stories aren’t the only sources of inspiration for the Duffer Brothers’ fictional town of Hawkins (and the eerie Upside Down, Hawkins’ alternate dimension). Durham, the city where the Duffer Brothers were raised, and other regions of North Carolina appear to have inspired the creation of the town of Hawkins, or at least parts of it.
Last year, millennials and binge-watchers of all ages became obsessed with “Stranger Things” when the sci-fi horror series premiered on Netflix.
The show is set in the 1980s in the quiet town of Hawkins, Ind., where four middle school-age friends – Mike, Will, Dustin and Lucas – spend their time playing Dungeons & Dragons and riding bikes around town.
After Will goes missing, his friends discover Hawkins isn’t so calm after all. Supernatural forces, a mysterious lab, a strange girl found in the woods, and Will’s disappearance are somehow all connected.
“Stranger Things 2,” which the Duffer Brothers have referred to as the sequel to the first season, premiered , revealing new secrets and geographic references of Durham and other regions in North Carolina.
And North Carolinians have noticed.
The most obvious references for those who live in the Triangle are the Eno River in Durham and Jordan Lake in Chatham County.
During a turning point in the story, Bob Newby (a new character in “Stranger Things 2” who dates Joyce Byers, Will’s mom) name drops the two bodies of water.
“And if that’s Lake Jordan, then you can probably find ... the Eno River,” Bob says.
Durham natives and residents probably caught the references to Mt. Sinai, Cornwallis and Kerley roads, and the neighborhood Lochn’ora quicker than other North Carolinians.
Although Cornwallis Road was mentioned in the first season, the mention of Lochn’ora in the second episode this season surprised John Snyder, president of the Lochn’ora Home Owners Association in Durham.
“We loved it,” Snyder said. “No one would say the word Lochn’ora. It’s such a strange name.”
In the show, it’s Halloween night and a character suggests the group of friends go trick-or-treating in Lochn’ora, saying, “That’s where the rich people live, right?”
A subsequent scene shows trick-or-treaters on the street and the neighborhood sign spelled “Loch Nora.”
Snyder noted the spelling discrepancy but said “the series seemed to get the font right on our sign.”
“It’s as if the Duffer brothers wrote it down as their memory of it,” Snyder said of the spelling. “It’s very recognizable.”
Other viewers have connected Easter eggs in the first season with new ones in the sequel.
For instance, in Season 1 we learn the friends call the road near the wooded area where Will goes missing “Mirkwood,” a reference to the great forest where the giant spiders live in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit.” Mirkwood is at the intersection of Cornwallis and Kerley roads in Hawkins. In real life (remember that?), Cornwallis and Kerley are near the Lochn’ora neighborhood.
Is Hawkins, Ind., really Durham?
“Some of our fondest memories are of the movies we made during the fourth grade,” Matt Duffer told IndyWeek last year. “They’re rough, but it was the most fun we ever had. A lot of what we do is trying to recapture what we had growing up.”
The show was filmed in Atlanta, but the possibility of filming the next two seasons in Durham has been raised. That decision comes down to tax incentives, Ross Duffer said.
“That’s why people are drawn to Atlanta,” Ross Duffer told the N&O. “ I would love to come back to North Carolina.”
Camila Molina: 919-829-4538, @Cmolina_