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Luzerne County, Pennsylvania
"Once known as Pleasant Valley, Avoca took its name from the valley town of the same name on the southeast coast of Ireland. I don't know the full story, but apparently there was a deliberate irony to the choice of Avoca. In the last century, there was a popular poem entitled "The Sweet Vale of Avoca," which may have discussed the wretched lives beneath a facade of happiness in this Irish town. Other folks mention the role of a disasterous 1888 train wreck (The Mud Run Disaster) that killed 29 Pleasant Valley residents, thus prompting the more somber name. Regardless, Avoca is one of several Pennsylvania towns whose name came from Europe. These days Avoca is home to the only airport in the world named backwards (the so-called "Wilkes-Barre"/Scranton Airport), which may be the reason we lost the local bureau of the National Weather Service. Update on Avoca: Although the "Vale of Tears" story has circulated for years, there are some informed folks who believe the whole thing is a myth, so take it with a grain of salt. One reader adds that Avoca in Gaelic means "where the waters meet."
(from Name Origins of Northeast PA Towns by Mike O'Hara)
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