Older readers may recall the time when Ripco was a popular local brand of dairy products, especially milk, butter and ice cream. In 1903, M. A. and Sallie Gales sold five acres of land along the Greenbrier River, just south of Ronceverte, to the Greenbrier Valley Cold Storage Co. The company was organized by C. H. Thompson, A. E. Johnson, and W. E. Deegans. The business was reorganized in 1914 as the Ronceverte Ice and Produce Company. The incorporators were C. H. Thompson, A. E. Johnson, John E. Dougher, J. C. Reed, and W. E. Deegans.
Guy B. Montgomery moved to Ronceverte from Staunton, became associated with Ripco about 1908, and eventually became an owner. Under his industrious management, Ripco flourished during the 1920s. It produced a full range of dairy products, including Bulgarian buttermilk (cream cultures replaced by yogurt culture for a more tart and thicker buttermilk). The business had a 24-hour gas station and garage that sold Sinclair petroleum products. Its cold storage plant had a capacity of 30,000 baskets of apples and 5,000 cases of eggs. It was reported to be the largest egg storage facility between Cincinnati and Baltimore. Milk for the dairy came from Morningside Farm, Montgomery’s Fairlea dairy farm.
Its motor division, called Bluegrass Motor Department, sold Diamond-T trucks and Willys automobiles. It was a distributor for a wide variety of beer and ale. From local farmers Ripco bought turkeys, chickens and hogs to sell in its store and ship to other distributors. Customers could buy sand, cement, and house coal, some of which came from Montgomery’s mines in the western end of Greenbrier County.
In 1928, Ripco employed 28 men and had a fleet of 10 delivery trucks. The business’ gross sales were $500,000 (about $9,000,000 in today’s dollars).
When one young Lewisburg student was home alone from school with an illness and both parents were away working, she remembers the Ripco deliveryman would put fresh bottles of milk in her family’s refrigerator, check on the patient, and call her father if he was needed at home to tend to her.
The brand of Ripco dairy products along with Greenbrier Dairy disappeared in the 1970s.
Photos: The West Virginia News, The Independent-Herald
Source: The West Virginia News