in partnership withLocal 12 News
Snappers Saloon in Ripley, Ohio. (Image: Sherry Lachelle Photography)

A Walk Back in Time: Ripley, Ohio

Yearning for the taste of a simpler time, a simpler place? Perhaps a place where "everybody knows everybody?" You'll find the destination you've been dreaming of 50 miles southeast of Cincinnati. Welcome to Ripley, Ohio.

Named after General Ripley, an American officer in the War of 1812, the town (which was built on the banks of the Ohio River) has since developed into a historically rich and undeniably charming village that's currently home to fewer than 2,000 residents. Let's take a look at some of this lovable burg's many highlights and claims to fame.

The town of Ripley was an early stop on the Underground Railroad, helping slaves escape the South by crossing the Ohio River into the North. In her pursuit of freedom, Margaret Garner risked her life while crossing the frozen river to reach Ripley. The character of Eliza in the Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was inspired by Garner.

Important abolitionists (including John Rankin, Dr. Alexander, and former slave John Parker) took up residence in the town. The grave of Rosa Washington Riles, also known as Aunt Jemima (of pancake fame), lies in the cemetery at Red Oak Presbyterian Church, another stop on the Underground Railroad.

For all you architecture and/or history buffs out there: Ripley is home to a 55-acre historic district, included as of 1984 in the National Register of Historic Places. Definitely worth a tour.


Another positive point is the town's location on US 52, a part of the Ohio River Scenic Byway (which is, by the way, the longest National Scenic Byway in the nation). Ripley also houses Ohio's only tobacco market. The farmers are, however, beginning to grow other crops (such as grapes) and utilize their land for livestock, due to the lessening demand for tobacco.

The town has many attractions -- wineries, antique shops, restaurants, bars, festivals -- but one of my favorite places is the Rockin' Robin's Soda Shoppe. As soon as you walk through the doors, the checkered floor, swivel barstools, and jukebox playing "oldies but goodies" (and housed in the rear of a miniature Ford Thunderbird, no less!) immediately carry you back in time. Plus, the ice cream is homemade and the staff makes you feel special.

If you've been wishing that time would just slow down a bit, you might want to hurry up and head to Ripley. A taste of the good ol' days (and some pretty darn tasty ice cream) awaits.

- - -

Want to learn more about this past and present of Ripley, Ohio? Visit the town's website. (Or just head on down!)