Ripley, Maine was settled at the turn of the 18th century and was named for Eleazer Wheelock Ripley who was an officer in the War of 1812. Some of the earliest settlers arrived in the late 1790’s.
Still a part of the State of Massachusetts, Ripley, an unorganized township north of the Waldo Patent, was known as Township Number 5 in the Fifth Range in the District of Maine. It was incorporated as a town on December 11, 1816. Maine later became a state in 1820.
In October of 1825 flames roared down from N.B. Canada from the forests along the Miramichi River leaving countless people homeless and destroying everything in its path. Maine was in the belt of this great fire and Ripley did not escape its wrath. By the time the fire had passed through this small village it had destroyed eleven houses, nine barns and much timber. The fire was followed by an outbreak of typhoid fever and whole families were wiped out.
On February 8, 1834, the northernmost part of Ripley was set aside and incorporated as the town of Cambridge. The East Branch of the Sebasticook River or “Maine Stream” forms the boundary between the two towns. Ripley is, therefore, the southern half of an original 6 mile square township.
In 1848 a powerful and destructive tornado swept eastward from the town of Harmony and touched down in many places across Ripley. It caused much damage to buildings and properties and is told that even people and animals were lifted up by the great wind and carried for some distance.
The early settlers had a dream when they pulled up roots from their homes and moved to this northern wilderness. Yes, they suffered hardships and disease, but they overcame them and built a town and community of neighbors and friends.
Today, Ripley is a town of approximately 450 people. The rolling hills, Ripley Pond and the quiet woodlands beckon to outsiders to stop, relax and enjoy the beauty. We, who are here today would do well to stop and reflect on how far we have come.