A day trip to Ripley, Ohio is a great way to learn about the history of the past and the hope of the future.
I’m sharing 4 places to stop in Ripley that will make for a memorable trip.
Ripley, Ohio was one of the few cities where whites and blacks worked together to help bring slaves to freedom.
Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and Ripley were three major cities for the Underground Railroad. 600-900 people were rescued because of the heroic efforts of others.
This small town has two homes that you need to visit to get a greater understanding of the risk and sacrifice of the brave townspeople who desired to treat everyone as equal and bring justice for the oppressed.
1st stop The John Rankin House
6152 Rankin Hill Rd, Ripley, OH
I first heard about the story of The Rankin House from a film at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center that was narrated by Oprah Winfrey.
The short film did a fantastic job of helping you understand the risk, the fear, and the bravery by everyone involved in the Underground Railroad.
The film shared how Rev. John Rankin and his family were conductors in the Underground Railroad. His home became more well known due to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”
A view from inside the Rankin Home allows you to see activity from both sides of the river. This property was a strategic location and vantage point for the Underground Railroad.
Over 2,000 “passengers” came through this part of the Underground Railroad on the Rankin Property from 1822-1866.
2nd stop –The Former Home of John Parker
John Parker was a former slave who was able to buy back his freedom. He became a successful craftsman and businessman with three patents. John later became the 9th wealthiest man in Ripley, which had several millionaires at the time.
He also played a huge part in the success of the Underground Railroad. John was among the few who were also “extractors”, risking his life and his freedom to help others reach theirs.
The “Ripley Chain” had about 329 people in the roles of the abolitionist in the city with a population of around 3000 people. A typical large chain during that time was 8-10 houses.
About 1/10 of people in Ripley, Ohio helped in the Underground Railroad movement in some way. Ripley, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia had the largest numbers of fugitive slaves travel through their cities.
Many fugitive slaves who were interviewed later shared the same common theme in that what they remembered most which was the generous hospitality of the people who helped during their path to freedom.
Both races worked together in the Underground Railroad in Ripley which was not as common in other cities where each race tended to work separately for the same cause.
Stop #3 Rockin’ Robin’s Soda Shoppe
8 Front St, Ripley, OH
After all of that history, it’s good to treat yourself to a dose of nostalgia that never goes out of style.
This 50’s inspired soda shoppe offers a variety of phosphates and other popular diner-style menu items.
Stop #4 Olde Piano Factory Antique
307 N Second St, Ripley, OH
This former piano factory has lots of antique treasures to discover.
I hope that you find a day trip to Ripley, Ohio as fascinating as I did.
Disclosure: I was given complimentary admission to The Rankin House for review purposes. All opinions are my own.
18 thoughts on “4 Places to Stop in Ripley, Ohio”
We live around Portsmouth Ohio and take a trip to Ripley, Ohio every chance we get. We love Ripley, beautiful place to see and live. The People there are Friendly and the Sites are many. I would move there in a heartbeat. You can go on up from Ripley and go across the Ohio River on the Ferry Boat to see an old Town called Augusta, Kentucky. Oh what a beautiful trip to see the sites.
So tempted to buy a home near river front with river view. Been on market for awhile as a refurbished home in historic sector. After investigating, most of town is rated in severe zone for flooding. Town was delightfully quiet but too much so as a town seemingly and sadly appearing in decline. To love this town, easy, for practical reasons, not so easy. We wanted to stay for a period of time but then realized that it would be better to revisit for short periods of time to stretch the small town experience into a longer period of time.
As we searched for a home in small town Ohio we proceeded a venture to other small towns and struck a liking to New Richmond, a Ripley sort of town, closer to Cincy and other smaller, active communities. With Ripley in mind and since discovering more small towns in Ohio, ie; Georgetown, Williamsburg and others, we decided on being practical and purchasing in Amelia to be close to grandkids and much needed amenities as, being in our 70’s, practical is a needed necessity and giving up small town dreaming comes with the territory.
Ripley needs to be a stop along life’s journey for those loving the small town and its many fascinating and mysterious reasons to live there, hopefully, many will stop and hopefully stay !
Myrtle Beach, more noteably, MURRELLS INLET, a small town fishing village in South Carolina is our beach get away to escape small town Ohio.
Two small towns, the way to retire !
Plan on going today. I love this little town and it’s history.
This would be a fun, easy and educational trip! Thanks for sharing!
Come to Ripley the first weekend in December. Tons happening!
Yes that is right on Sunday Dec. 2 of River Village Christmas Tyler Christopher the multi-award winner Elvis Tribute Artist will be bringing his show to RULH High School at 7pm.
Tyler Christopher is recognized as one of the top tribute artists in the world. The Unique Elvis Show recreates the excitement of Elvis in his prime Doors open at 6pm and showtime is 7pm. There will be refreshments and pulled pork selections available before the show. The show is FREE to the public and is sponsored by a local resident. Donations to help with the cost will be gladly accepted. Check out Tyler Christopher Elvis on Facebook and YouTube. Sunday also features live reindeer and Santa at the Ohio Valley Manor Sunday afternoon at 2pm with refreshments and music. Make sure you bring the children to see the live reindeer. It is an amazing experience.
Don’t forget that River Village Christmas starts Friday night Nov.30 at 5:30pm with the Ripley Library Tree Lighting and music by the RULH Elementary School. This if followed by the free Hot Chocolate Social and Friends of the Library Book Sale at the Library annex. Be sure to stock up on your winter ready at the book sale. There is a huge selection of books of every type for sale. During the book sale there will also be music performed by the Banks of the Ohio String Band. Friday night also features Harriett Jackson’s Holiday Happening at Co Hearts River House. A fun evening of dinner and music with Harriett will really get you into the holiday spirit. Please call Co Hearts for reservations.
Saturday Dec. 1 starts off with the JROTC Jingle Run in Ripley at 8am. Come down and get some exercise with a nice run or walk through town and support our local JROTC program. Breakfast with Santa also starts at 8am at the RULH Elementary School and is sponsored by the FCCLA. Be sure to get your tickets in advance from the FCCLA for the breakfast that will also feature music, elf dancing and stocking decorating with Santa’s elves. 9am Saturday features Santa at First State Bank with pictures and treats! Be sure to stop in and visit with Santa, drop off your Christmas list, and check out the bank’s new location. The Nazarene Craft Fair also begins at 9am and the Naz Café will feature lunch and dessert treats. Merchants around town including Marla’s Salon, Citizens Deposit Bank, the Ripley Florist, Gil’s Shear Artistry, Judith’s Antique Attic, will have treats and specials. It will be your last chance to pick up raffle tickets for the giant River Village Christmas raffle that includes over 30 prizes from deShea’s, Co Hearts, Ripley Florist, Small Machine Repair, Dairy Queen, Blue Jay Carwash, John Ruthven, McCaughey massage and many more. Tickets are only $1 each or 6 for $5 and all proceeds to fund the hundreds of luminaries, banners, and other RVC expenses. Look for the self serve raffle buckets around town at Bristows, Marla’s Salon, Ripley Florist, First State and Citizens banks. Saturday of River Village Christmas continues Saturday with the book sale and at 7pm the ever popular Community Concert at the Ripley First Presbyterian Church. Monti Mallow is conducting and the evening is packed with music, song and more. This concert will get you in the holiday spirit and really spotlights the amazing local talent in our community. Weather permitting hundreds of luminaries will light your way home from the Community Concert.
Thanks for sharing Holly! Ripley is a special place!
Hello, I used to visit Ripley every weekend as a child, well up until high school age. My Dad had a place at Chief Logan’s Gap. We were on the river all weekend boating! I loved the barges too. I would love to move back and retire there. I live in California now. Love it here but miss the slow paced and small town feel of Ripley!! Hopefully one day I will have a place on the river, relaxing on my front porch watching the boats & barges pass by! 🙂 Blessings!
This is my hometown. Rich in history. There is a tobacco museum also. Sitting on the river front watching barges go up and down the river is very relaxing. There is a small park there also. It’s all real close to the John Parker House. Its home of the first tobacco warehouses.
I lived in lavanna just west of ripley for eighteen years wish I was still there
Live in Ripley and very proud of its history. Great place to live and retire.
Enjoyed reading your story. Long ago I climbed those satires. Couldn’t do that again today. I enjoy visiting Ripley and l it’s history.
I didn’t know that about the gumball machine! That’s good to know! Thanks for sharing!
Do they sell vinyl?
We live in Cincinnati and visit Ripley often. We’ve visited all 4 places and love the history. Rockin Robin’s is my kid’s favorite restaurant! They always remember to bring a quarter for the gumball machine, because if you get a white gumball they give you a free icecream cone!
Be sure to check out Ripley ROCKS Music Store and Recording Studio for all the music minded people. A great stop!
Looks like a fun day and so close. We will have to check it out!