The present-day town of Ranburne sits on the site of the oldest settlement in Cleburne County, dating back to around 1814. The territory that encompassed Ranburne lay within Cherokee Territory, and thus white settlement was sparse until the Cherokees were forced from their land by the U.S. government in the 1830s. During this early period, the town originally was called Lost Creek, after an incident in which a young boy wandered off down a creek in the area and was never found.
Farming was the mainstay of the local economy, but unlike other farming areas in Alabama, it was not cotton-based. In addition, raising cattle became a part of the farm economy. Land was donated for a school in 1850, but it was not built until 1860. As in most farming communities, school was in session three months in summer and three months in winter to accommodate the planting and harvest months.
In 1894, the town was renamed Ranburne, a combination of the names of Randolph County and Cleburne County. The community opened a post office in 1899, but it soon closed and was not reopened until 1931. In addition to farming, businesses that served the area in the early to mid-twentieth century included grist mills, a cotton gin, a blacksmith shop, and dry-goods stores.
Ranburne incorporated in 1957, and it built a town hall in 1959. The town constructed a municipal park and a baseball field in the mid-1980s.
According to 2020 Census estimates, Ranburne recorded a population of 508. Of that number, 93.9 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 4.5 percent as two or more races, 1.0 as American Indian and Alaska Native, 1.0 percent as Hispanic, and 0.6 percent as African American. The town’s median household income was $49,167, and the per capita income was $31,642.
According to 2020 Census estimates, the workforce in Ranburne was divided among the following industrial categories:
- Educational services and health care and social assistance (29.8 percent)
- Transportation and warehousing, and utilities (15.8 percent)
- Manufacturing (12.6 percent)
- Retail trade (7.9 percent)
- Construction (7.0 percent)
- Professional, scientific, and management, and administrative and waste management services (6.0 percent)
- Other services, except public administration (4.7 percent)
- Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and leasing (3.7 percent)
- Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services (3.3 percent)
- Public administration (3.3 percent)
- Wholesale trade (2.8 percent)
- Information (1.9 percent)
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extraction (1.4 percent)
Schools in Ranburne are part of the Cleburne County school system; the town has one elementary school and one high school.
State Highway 46 runs east-west through the town.
Events and Places of Interest
Ranburne maintains one city park and a baseball field.
Cleburne County Heritage Book Committee. Heritage of Cleburne County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, Inc., 1998.