As "company towns" began to expand in White Pine County in the early 1900s, several other communities were developed to provide additional housing and services to area miners. But because they were not subject to the strict laws of company towns, they quickly turned into wild and rowdy communities with economies that revolved around prostitution and liquor. Riepetown's dubious business district managed to outlast those of the others.
The town was named after Richard A. Riepe, a German immigrant and self-proclaimed copper miner who platted the town. Riepe served in the Nevada assembly twice, representing Lincoln County in 1883 and White Pine County in 1889.
Riepetown's primary customers for prostitution and liquor were from Kimberly, Ruth, and Veteran. Similar towns such as Smelterville, Steptoe City, and Ragtown (also known as Ragdump) were established just outside of McGill and competed for business there. Ragtown went so far as to establish free transportation to and from McGill.
While the company towns could do little to control the activities in these fringe communities, they sometimes tried. In 1909, when Riepetown's popularity was at its peak, the district attorney began insisting that no cribs (shacks used for prostitution) or dance halls be allowed on main streets in the county. Proprietors in Riepetown responded by moving the town's Main Street two blocks away from their flourishing businesses.
Upstanding residents and company officials in McGill eventually succeeded in shutting down Steptoe City and Ragdump by petitioning the county not to renew liquor, gambling, and dance hall licenses in 1914. Riepetown was able to resist public pressure until 1917, when a fire destroyed its business district. The town was rebuilt with the help of the Consolidated Copper Company because it was needed to house employees who worked in area mines.
Riepetown's population dwindled over time, and today there is nothing left of the town.