A small crowd gathered on the library lawn as Steen Cannons Factory and the Village of Ripley worked together to remove Ripley’s 1862 cannon from its concrete pad and load it on Steen’s flatbed trailer. Representatives from the library and the Friends of the Library group were on hand to witness this momentous occasion. Sparks flew as Marty Regenstein from the village assisted by Eddie Frazier cut the chains that have secured the cannon in this location for the last fifty years. Marshall Steen from Ashland, Kentucky assisted by Richard Mendez then tried to roll it off the pad and across the lawn. One wheel was rusted tight and wouldn’t move so the village guys created a ramp to slide the cannon across the lawn and out the gate. Marty then fired up the village’s backhoe to lift the cannon onto the specialized flatbed trailer designed to carry cannons. Local residents watched as the cannon headed East on Route 52 for its barrel restoration and new carriage.
The Friends of the Library group have been seeking donations since April 1st. Much of the needed funds have been pledged but the group has not yet reached its goal for the complete project. It is hoped that the total of $13,500 can be realized by the time the cannon is completed this summer. Interested citizens may make tax-exempt donations at the library. To learn more about the Steen Cannon Factory and Mr. Steen’s unique ties to Ripley one may visit Steen’s website at www.steencannons.com .
Research to date indicates that this is a rare Civil War cannon manufactured by the Wiard Company. Only one other cannon of this make and type has been identified in the United States. The cannon features a 3-inch rifled barrel. The carriage is not original and was built locally in 1962. The town of Ripley purchased the cannon in 1862 for $1,000 during the Civil War to protect the town when it was threatened by invaders from the South such as General Basil Duke, CSA, who wanted to burn Ripley, “the abolitionist hellhole,” to the ground. It arrived by boat from Cincinnati.
The cannon stood ready to repel Morgan’s Raiders when they swept through Southern Ohio. In 1912, Ripley’s Centennial, the cannon was fired in salute. The cannon fell into disrepair and was almost sent as scrap metal during World War II. In 1962 the cannon was restored and the carriage replaced as a project of the Ripley Women’s Club and appeared in the Sesquicentennial Parade. After 50 years on the library lawn, the cannon carriage was being held together by rust and paint. It is now on its journey for a new carriage and barrel restoration.