It’s a product that has fallen out of favor with the public over the years for good reason, but for generations tobacco was an important cash crop for small farmers and sharecroppers just trying to make a living. The Ohio Tobacco Museum in the friendly little Ohio River town of Ripley, tells the story of the important role locally grown White Burley tobacco played in the early economy of southern Ohio.
The museum is located in the handsome two-story Epsey family brick house from the 1850s. Mr. Epsey, the head of the family, was employed by the Heavy Munition Works in nearby Cincinnati. The company manufactured the three cannons that were installed in Ripley to protect it from Confederate raiders during the Civil War.
The home’s rooms each follow a theme related to the tobacco industry. Displays in the History Room cover the origin of White Burley tobacco and what tobacco farming was like in the early days along the Ohio River. The Tobacco Farm Room covers the process of raising tobacco from when the seeds are planted, through harvesting and producing the finished product. The Stripping Room explains the process of handling tobacco after it’s cut, from curing it in open-air barns to preparing it for sale. There is also a large replica of a tobacco barn, and all of the rooms display equipment used in tobacco farming.
More rooms on the second floor display all kinds of tobacco memorabilia, along with displays of cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and ashtrays.
Other buildings at the museum include one that displays large farming equipment, tobacco sleds, scales, and tobacco presses. You don’t have to be a smoker or a former smoker to appreciate learning about the history of an industry that once was so important. This is the only museum in Ohio that covers the tobacco industry, and it’s well worth a stop the next time you are exploring southern Ohio.
The Ohio Tobacco Museum is located at 702 S. 2nd Street (U.S. Highway 52) in Ripley and is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays 1 to 4 p.m. April through December, or any time by appointment by calling 937-392-9410. There is no admission fee, but donations are gratefully accepted to cover overhead costs. There is a bus parking area that would accommodate a large RV, but call ahead to be sure there is room.
It’s Thursday and that means it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Birdsongs, the first book in my friend Jason Deas’ excellent Benny James mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.
Thought For The Day – I’m not listening, but keep talking. I enjoy the way your voice makes my ears bleed.