The Rankin House was an important stop on the Underground Railroad in southern Ohio through which many slaves escaped from the South to freedom. A Presbyterian minister and educator, John Rankin devoted much of his life to the antislavery movement. In 1826 he published his antislavery book, Letters on American Slavery. In 1834 he founded the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society in Zanesville. From 1822 to 1863 Rankin and family, with their Brown County neighbors, sheltered more than 2,000 slaves escaping to freedom, with as many as twelve escapees being hidden at one time in the Rankin home that sits atop the village of Ripley with a magnificent view of the Ohio River. The Rankin House is a State Memorial and a National Historic Landmark. Views from the house include downtown Ripley and the Ohio River. For more information view the Ohio History web site. http://www.ohiohistory.org/
The Parker House is a National Historic Landmark, home of African-American abolitionist, John Parker. John Parker advanced his status from former slave to successful patented inventor and businessman in Ripley before the Civil War, is credited with assisting virtually hundreds of slaves to make their way north to freedom through his Front Street home. John P. Parker was born into slavery in 1827, the son of a black woman and white plantation owner. He knew first-hand the scourge of being bought and sold and used like an animal. At age eight he was sold, chained to other slaves, and made to walk ragged and barefoot from his original home in Virginia to Mobile, Alabama. On this journey his spirit was ignited with the anger and hatred of bondage that would fuel his life-long passion for helping others to freedom. http://www.johnparkerhouse.org/
The boyhood home of Ulysses S. Grant is located at 219 East Grant Ave. in Georgetown, OH. The home was built by Grant's father, Jesse Grant in 1823. Additions to the home were made in 1825 and 1828. The National Register property was restored by Mr. and Mrs. John Ruthven in 1982. At that time, it was designated a National Historic Landmark. It is now the property of the state of Ohio and is maintained by the U.S. Grant Homestead Association. www.usgrantboyhoodhome.org/
The Underground Railroad was perhaps the most dramatic protest action against slavery in United States history. The operations of clandestine escape networks began in the 1500s, and was later connected with organized abolitionist activity of the 1800s. Neither an "underground" nor a "railroad," this informal system arose as a loosely constructed network of escape routes that originated in the South, intertwined throughout the North, and eventually ended in Canada. Escape routes were not just restricted to the North, but also extended into western territories, Mexico, and the Caribbean. From 1830 to 1865, the Underground Railroad reached its peak as abolitionists and sympathizers who condemned human bondage aided large numbers of bondsmen to freedom. They not only called for slavery destruction, but also acted to assist its victims.
A group of 8 students accompanied by 3 teachers met up with 2 Ohio Cyclists to guide them on their 250 mile ride of parts of the Underground Railroad in Ohio. The students were from the Bronx Lab School in New York. This is the second year a group from the school will take this journey for self-discovery, teamwork, leadership and physical fitness.
After a 17 hour train ride to Maysville the journey started in Ripley with the students climbing the stairs to reach the Rankin House. While in Ripley the Parker House was also toured. The students keep journals and daily will talk about their experiences and keep their blog updated. The end of the route on day 8 will be in Oberlin.
Later the same day a group of 28 cyclists arrived in Ripley to end their 8 day ride of the Heart of the Underground Railroad route. This is a new Adventure Cycling Route that incorporates parts of the 2000 mile Underground Railroad Bicycle Route. This group also toured the Underground Railroad sites in Ripley before returning to Cincinnati where the adventure ended.
The Underground Railroad Bicycle Route, The Route To Freedom, received a number 2 spot on a list of the world’s top 10 bicycling trails in the National Geographic publication “Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Greatest Trips”. This route is the 2028 mile route created by Adventure Cycling Association in Missoula, Montana. The route starts in Mobile, Alabama and ends in Owen Sound, Canada. Locally the route goes through parts of Kentucky, crosses the bridge to Aberdeen and then makes it way through Brown County before crossing into Clermont County.