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 Honors History Field Trip Spring 2005
On March 5, 2005 students from Honors History 151 (American Civilization to 1877) participated in a field trip to Ripley, Ohio. The students were accompanied by their instructor, Roger Nimps, as well as Professors Allison Gilmore and Tom Ingersoll of the History Department, and Ohio State Lima Honors Director, Dr. William Ackerman.

The field trip has become a biannual tradition at Ohio State Lima, dating back to the first visit in 1999. The trip is conducted in conjunction with a reading of His Promised Land, the story of John Parker, an ex-slave who moved to Ripley before the Civil War, started his own business, and became deeply involved in underground railroad operations. Parker's autobiographical tale only became widely known in the 1990s, meaning that Ohio State Lima students were among the first to come to the Ohio River town of Ripley to re-trace the steps of Parker and all the other residents of Ripley who participated in the dangerous operations of the Underground Railroad. Parker's historic home and business are located on the banks of the Ohio River.

Ripley was also the home of Reverend John Rankin, an early abolitionist and member of the Underground Railroad, who lived on Liberty Hill, which looms high over the town. A highlight of each tour is the walk from Parker's house to the top of Liberty Hill, up the same wooded path followed by people escaping slavery and their Underground Railroad conductors.

In the years since the first visit by Ohio State Lima students, Ripley has become nationally famous as a center of Underground Railroad activity. The town is central to the exhibits in the new National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, and is the subject of a short film produced and narrated by Oprah Winfrey. Despite their increased popularity, the people of Ripley always go out of their way to make Ohio State Lima students welcome, providing special tours and allowing extraordinary access to both the Parker House and the Rankin House.

Each visit to Ripley is completed with an evening meal at Cohearts Restaurant, located in a nineteenth century house on the Ohio River. The field trip to Ripley is funded by a Pressey Grant, awarded by the University Honors and Scholars Center of The Ohio State University.

Honors History students in front of the refurbished John Parker House on the banks of the Ohio River. March 5, 2005

 

Students looking up to the top of Liberty Hill, as they begin their walk to the John Rankin House.

History students at the top of Liberty Hill, looking back at the Ohio River and the Parker House.

The front entrance to the house of Reverend John Rankin.

A pair of bears kept by a Ripley resident. Seen along the walk from the Parker House to the Rankin House.

The front entrance to the John Parker House.

Students gathered in front of Cohearts Restaurant.