Avella is a census-designated place in Independence Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania, United States. As of the 2010 census the population was 804 residents. It is located at 40.27° north & 80.45° west.
The ancient history of the area includes some of North America's earliest inhabitants. The Meadowcroft Rockshelter is a prehistoric shelter found below a rock outcropping that is believed to have provided shelter for a succession of early foragers as far back as 16,000 years. The area also was the site of Eastern Woodland Indians communities some 400 years ago. Today a National Historic Landmark includes a historic interactive display that provides a view of life for early Woodland Indians, as well as 19th Century rural American life.
Avella's early history included American frontiersmen, grist mills and refuge forts during the 18th century, when the area was part of the western frontier. It remains the site of a significant farming community. However, it began to grow after the arrival of the railroad in the early 20th century (the last railroad tunnel was completed in 1903 and served the Wabash Railroad.) Completion of the railroad enabled coal mining companies to open numerous mines, making the Avella/Burgettstown area one of the world's most important bituminous coal mining regions.
The mining and railroad opportunities attracted many immigrants in the early 20th century, principally southern and eastern Europeans, and the area grew greatly in size and importance in the first third of the 20th century.