The early growth and development of Ranson reflects the late 19th century boom of the Shenandoah Valley and surrounding areas associated with the rise of the railroads, mining, and manufacturing. Some of the companies that located in Ranson early on included the Hotel Powhatan, the Goetz Saddlery, the Shenandoah Brass and Iron Works, the Elemer E. Beachley Saw and Planing Mill, the John Farrin Boiler and Machine Shop, and the Vulcan Road Machine Company. In 1936, the town of Ranson purchased the building that formerly housed the Charles Town Mining, Manufacturing, and Improvement Company and set up the town offices within it. Today, Ranson is a thriving community that blends a developing commercial district housing major corporations with rapidly growing residential neighborhoods.
There were 1,208 households out of which 32.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.0% were married couples living together, 19.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.2% were non-families. 26.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 2.93.
In the town the population was spread out with 26.1% under the age of 18, 10.4% from 18 to 24, 31.0% from 25 to 44, 21.7% from 45 to 64, and 10.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 89.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.8 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $24,485, and the median income for a family was $30,676. Males had a median income of $26,719 versus $19,559 for females. The per capita income for the town was $12,804. About 20.9% of families and 25.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.4% of those under age 18 and 14.5% of those age 65 or over.