Walking along the promenade, a swift cool breeze blows in from the Ohio, bringing with it the ghostly whistles of steamboats and the calls of longshoremen as they toss bundles of cotton, textiles and corn to and from the boats along the waterfront. In the 19th century, rivers like the Ohio River were the main source for travel and moving goods from the North to the South. Nestled about 15 miles upriver from Cincinnati, New Richmond on the Ohio was the hub of moving people and goods from Clermont county to the rest of the country. The town was home to a steamboat manufacturer, as well as saw mills, textile mills, distilleries and furniture factories.
The town was also a hotbed for the abolitionist movement. The location along the river made it an ideal location to offer shelter to escaped slaves as they made their way north to freedom along the Underground Railroad. This often placed the town at odds with its neighbors in the slave state of Kentucky, which was located just a couple of miles across the river. The town offered acceptance and a home to free blacks, as well as protecting escaped blacks when pursued by slave trackers. New Richmond was the home of the first anti-slavery association in Clermont County and James Birney established the abolitionist newspaper, The Philanthropist in the town. As early as the 1830’s, the Presbyterian and Baptist churches missed edicts decrying slavery.
Underground Railroad Sites