Day 2: “The War Before the War”

augusta streetAfter leaving Xavier University in the morning, we traveled across the Ohio River into Kentucky.  Our first stop was a small town situated on the Ohio River named Augusta.  Augusta was the site of a Civil War skirmish between the Confederate guerrilla forces of General Morgan and the Union Augusta forces.  The invaders won, looting and burning the town.  30 men, both Union and Confederate, were killed.  Some of the original buildings from the war still stand today. -Jacob

From Augusta we took a car ferry from Kentucky over to Ripley, Ohio. The route we took had been in use sinceferry alone the 1750s. In the past the river had been dramatically smaller and rowboats were used for transportation. Now, the Ohio River is around two times its original size. Escaped slaves often had to swim across the river to get to the northern states and try to make their way to Canada through the Underground Railroad. The ferry ride was  fun, and also helped the group understand the difficulties that the slaves encountered  on their attempts to escape from slavery. -Aaron

group on ferry

rankin stairs

From there, we went to Rankin house in Ohio. It was a house owned by an abolitionist family who played a major role in the Underground Railroad. They had a huge flight of stairs (which we climbed) that lead from the Ohio river up to the house (Left). The fleeing slaves would be given food and taken to the next station on the Railroad. In forty years of operation, 2000 slaves came through, and not one of them was lost. It is amazing how people put their lives and reputation on the line to help free the slaves.       -Quinn

rankin window

In order to reach the Rankin house you must first cross the Ohio river and climb up a steep hill. We got the first upchance to take the steps the slaves took to reach freedom. Granted the steps we took were a little safer, it was a mesmerizing experience.  It really opened my eyes to how difficult it was to make the climb up, even I had a struggle with the help of the modern engineering of stairs. And when i got to the top (Right) I realized, hey there is a huge river that you need to cross.  The river back then was about a quarter mile long, and the starving and frightened slaves had to cross it wether it was frozen or not. I knew from school that the underground railroad was risky and hard to get through, but once you see what they had to go through it changes your perspective.   -Brett


Cellar Doors opened where many slaves slipped in and out of the Rankin Home.

One thought on “Day 2: “The War Before the War”

  1. Pingback: Fear and Hope | HistoricaLese

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