The community was named after Vulcan, the god of fire in Roman mythology.
In 1977, John Robinette, acting mayor of Vulcan, requested foreign aid from the Soviet Union and East Germany to replace the town's bridge after unsuccessful efforts to get the state to replace it. The bridge was the sole route to legally enter and exit the town, and it had collapsed two years previously. Russian journalist Iona Andronov visited Vulcan on December 17, 1977 to meet with Robinette and survey the problem. Within an hour of his visit, reporters were told that the state would replace the bridge. The West Virginia state legislature provided $1.3 million in funding to replace the bridge.