Ripley is a beautiful old Underground Railroad town in Brown County. Colonel James Poage, a veteran of the American Revolution, arrived in the free state of Ohio from Staunton, Virginia in 1804 to claim the 1000 acres he had been granted in what was then the Virginia Military District. Poage was among a large group of veterans who received land grants beyond the Ohio for their service and freed their slaves when they settled there. Poage and his family laid out the town of Staunton in 1812; it was renamed in 1816 to honor an American officer in the War of 1812, General Eleazar Wheelock Ripley.
The proximity of the river and of the slave state of Kentucky on the opposite shore led to Ripley's role as an early stop on the Underground railroad, a network of citizens sympathetic to slaves escaping north to freedom. A number of prominent abolitionists lived in the town in the 1800s, mainly on Front Street near the river, including Reverend John Rankin, former slave John Parker, Thomas McCague, Thomas Collins and Dr. Alexander Campbell.
Today, Ripley has beautiful town and rowhomes along the Ohio River with an antique downtown. The town's most prominent attraction is the Rankin House, which overlooks the town and Ohio River.