There are said to be 20 towns in America with this name. Several of them began life as towns called Aetna, the Italian name for this volcano, but the majority of them were named after the famous erupter in Italy that has caused sleepless nights many times disastrously over the years. Its most explosive eruption on the island of Sicily occurred in 1669, but it has been erupting off and on since 2022. It’s still active in other words, but experts say that it has stopped its volcanic activity for now. That there are 20 towns in this nation with this name is kind of amazing to me and a tribute to its claim to be the most active volcano in Europe even though Iceland is part of Europe and has more active volcanoes as does Alaska.
None of the towns named Etna or Aetna in the United States are now very important. Most of them are identified mainly by their counties. Some have become ghost towns. There are really only 4 of them of an consequence. They are the Etnas in Maine, California, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. The largest town with this name is the Etna that has been incorporated into the city of Pittsburgh. The Etna in Maine is near the city of Bangor and began life as Crosbytown. The Etna in California has fewer than 1,000 people living in it and is in the northern part of the state not too far from Yreka that might have become the capital of Jefferson had it happened as a state. The total population of towns named Etna is about 5,600 people.
There is an Etna in my county in Washington called Clark. It must be very small and is unmapped. The Etna in New Hampshire has been absorbed into the town of Hanover. The Etna in Illinois is near the city of Mattoon in Coles County. It’s too bad that this name is not very important now. It would be an original idea to have a lot of towns named after a volcano.
You would think that a lot of people would name their new town Vesuvius or Etna, but this is not so. I can’t find a single town named Vesuvius in the world. Maybe this is because there was so much destruction from the first volcano that people are reluctant to use this name. The word Vesuvius is of uncertain origin, but it clearly means volcano in Italian. Vesuvius first erupted in 79 AD. This was so bad that it affected 3 cities. The other 2 were Herculaneum and Stabiae. Vesuvius is still an active volcano. It erupted in 1944, for example, during World War II.
Vesuvius is not used as the name for a town, but there is a Herculaneum in Missouri. It’s in the area of Saint Louis but about 30 miles south of this city in Jefferson County.