In the past, Bacnotan was only a vast expanse of wilderness inhabited by a band of natives with a crude form of government. There was a time when it was ruled by a despotic chieftain who had absolute control over all his consituents. Disobedience to his directives meant severe flogging of the culprit. After several years under the tyrannic rule of the chieftain, the people successfully overthrew him and gave him a dose of his own medicine. They lfogged their chieftain to death. The english word “FLOG” is bakunutan in the dialect. The word “BAKUNUTAN” had become a byword among the inhabitants, hence the name of the town.

During the Spanish period, the name of the town was changed from “BAKUNUTAN” to “BACNOTAN” as evidenced by the communications which are still kept intact at the National Archives in Manila.

The town’s history is linked with the deeds of heroic men who fought bold and died for their own native land. at the turn of the century, during the Spanish – American war, Dumarang (now Quirino) was scene of carnage and plunder.

Having survived a possible reduction of territory, Bacnotan has emerged as a peaceful and progressive town. It has since then been the site of multi-million peso projects, namely, the Water Impounding Project in Barangay Bussaoit, the Sow Bredding Project in Baroro, the Agro - Forestry Complex donated by the Japanese Government at DMMMSU, Sapilang and the multi - billion cement plant expansion and the 21MW Bunker Fuelled Power Plant CIP II in Barangay Quirino beside the Holcim Philippines cement plant and the on - going construction of 50 Million Irrigation facilities that will cater to 17 farmland barangays of Bacnotan covering 417 hectares.