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 Rankin House
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 2,00 “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. He 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. He 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
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 menu items.
Stop #4 Olde Piano Factory Antique
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.