Honor has a rich and unique history from its earliest days as an Indian encampment. Following the Civil War, many returning veterans settled in the area. With rich farmlands and a booming lumber industry, Honor provided ample sources of work for these men. The town was an operational site of the Guelph Patent Cask Company, which maintained a large sawmill on the Platte River. Guelph attorney Joseph A. Gifford was instrumental in developing the area; the town is named after his daughter, Honor Gifford. Eventually it became the site of an annual reunion of Civil War vets, probably due in part to the name of the town. What veteran’s group wouldn’t want to meet in Honor? The commemoration was well known and heavily attended.
In 1953, Honor saw the opening of the Cherry Bowl Drive-In Theater. It survives to this day, lovingly restored and one of the oldest continually operating drive-in theaters in America. Coho salmon were introduced to the area in 1966 through the Platte River Fish Hatchery, drawing thousands of hopeful fishermen to the area. Honor held its first annual Coho Festival in 1968 and has been known as the “Birthplace of the Coho Salmon” ever since.
Like many small towns, Honor has been in a state of decline since the 1980’s, relegated to little more than a bedroom community for those working in Traverse City or Manistee. But in 2011, the sleepy little town is waking up to find that it is a kind of time capsule. Pristine natural resources, an aging but historic downtown, and that kickin’ drive-in theater have been untouched by developers. We are a town that time forgot… and a place on the cusp of rediscovery.
The Village of Honor is located in a wooded valley. The Platte River meanders through here, just an afternoon’s kayak away from Lake Michigan. Big and Little Platte Lakes are our doorstep. As the center point of Benzie County, everything is minutes away. We are eleven miles from Sleeping Bear National Park, ten minutes from Crystal Mountain Resort, and ground zero for some of the best hiking and biking in Northern Michigan. We are the gateway to Michigan’s finest outdoor recreation.
With a celebrated history as a fisherman’s paradise, Honor is well known in the sports fishing world. We want to do the same with other recreational activities. Our proximity to Crystal Mountain and Sleeping Bear – the closest point from US-31 – pinpoints our location at the hub of outdoor fun. Future plans to expand hiking, biking and snowmobile trails are in the works.
Honor, the word
Our name is perhaps one of our greatest assets. How many organizations consider honor not just a word, but a part of their identity? By locating some aspect of their organizations here, they could make honor part of their physical identity as well. Perhaps we could attract the headquarters of a national veteran’s or policeman’s association, or develop a significant commemoration for Veteran’s or Memorial Day.
Honor’s identity is already whole, but not clearly defined. It is imperative that we strengthen this aspect of our revitalization plan. The Honor Area Restoration Project is firmly committed to this effort. We want our brand to reflect the past, embrace the future, and celebrate Honor’s unique place in the world.