High Shoals is a town in Gaston County, North Carolina, United States named for the high rocky shoal across the Catawba River. The population was 696 at the 2010 census.
High Shoals was the location of the High Shoals Iron Works, founded by Swiss-born John Fulenwider in about 1795. Fulenwider developed one of the earliest methods of making pig iron with the charcoal process. During the War of 1812, his High Shoals ironworks produced cannonballs for use by the United States Army. Fulenwider died in 1826 and is buried at High Shoals cemetery. The ironworks he developed remained in operation until 1875.
In the last decade of the 19th century, the community of High Shoals became totally owned by High Shoals Mills, a textile company founded by Charlotte industrialist Daniel A. Tompkins.
Eventually, the mill homes were sold to private owners. High Shoals was incorporated on November 6, 1973, the most-recently incorporated municipality in Gaston County.
High Shoals is located at 35°23′49″N 81°12′16″W (35.397043, -81.204313). According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 2.7 square miles (6.9 km2), of which 2.6 square miles (6.7 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km2), or 2.10%, is water.
The South Fork Catawba River flows through High Shoals. Areas northeast of the river are assigned to the Hoyle Creek watershed, while those southwest of the river are in the Beaverdam Creek watershed. Sulfur Branch flows through western High Shoals (including Briarcreek Golf Course) and enters the South Fork at the south end of town.