Nennius, the Welsh historian of the 9th century, believed the name of the Carron was derived from Carausius, the 3rd century Roman commander who declared himself emperor of Britannia and northern Gaul.
According to the Ossian poems of James Macpherson, the waterway's name is Scots Gaelic in origin and means "winding river". Another etymology which is just as plausible is that the river's original name was is derived from the Brythonic word "Caeravon" meaning "river of the caers" eluding to the Roman fortifications built on its banks as a barrier between their territory and that of the Picts.
In the 17th century, William Nimmo described the river and region as follows:
The whole length of its course, from west to east, is some 14 miles, the first half of which is spent among bleak hills and rocks, but, when it has reached the low grounds, its banks are fertile and wooded, and, as it advances, the neighbouring soil increases in richness and value. ..The stream is small comparatively, yet there is no river in Scotland whose surroundings have been the scene of so many memorable events.The river is also referred to in the Scots language song "Lads O' the Fair":
...A short distance from its source, the river enters the Carron Bog. This vast plain and meadow... [is] Considerably elevated above the ocean, it occupies part of the table-land between the eastern and western coasts. It has, probably, been a lake at no very distant period, and gradually filled by the hill brooks washing down debris. Part, indeed, is a swamp scarcely passable at any time, but nearly inundated by every heavy rain.
...in the division called Temple Denny, the Carron, having worn a hollow channel in the rock, forms a beautiful cascade, by pouring its contracted stream over a precipice above 20 feet in height. ..When the river is in flood, and a triumphant torrent sweeps down the glen, this cascade is unsurpassed among Scottish streams for the grandeur of its storm of spray. ..Over the serpentine road down-hill to Denny the spirit of beauty everywhere prevails. The intervening district, indeed, is famous for its pastoral undulations; and from almost every breezy brae-top a charming view is got of the wooded banks of the river – foliage which, even in the present green-tide, displays all the variety of autumnal richness.
For ye can see them a', the lads o' the fair
Lads frae the Forth an' the Carron Water
Workin' lads an' lads wi' gear
Lads that'll sell ye the provost's dochter
Sogers back frae the German Wars
Peddlers up frae the Border
The reservoir has proved to be an ideal habitat for the Carron's indigenous brown trout population. Thriving on the rich feeding of the newly flooded river valley and with easy access to its many excellent spawning and nursery streams, the "wild brownies" of the Carron Valley Reservoir are numerous.
The company's local coal mining operations where known as the Carron Collieries The villages of Carronhall and Carronshore contained dwellings for miners and factory workers. This area was serviced by the Carron Branch Railway.
Through the factory's products, the river's name passed to the naval cannon called the carronade. These big guns were used during in Napoleonic Wars in melees such as the Battle of Trafalgar as well as various naval battles during the American Civil War.
The ironworks also produced the Carron bath, a large bathtub. Although the Carron Company was sold in 1982, these tubs are still manufactured in Falkirk by Carron Bathrooms Ltd (owned by Carron Phoenix, a division of the Swiss firm that bought Carron Company) and distributed across Britain. These baths are now made of acrylic and, for extra cost, may be coated in a protective substance the company calls "carronite".
The USS Carronade (named after the cannon that was named after the river), was a ship of the U.S. Navy that was completed in 1955. Finished too late to serve in the Korean War, she was taken out of service but re-commissioned for the Vietnam War. She was decommissioned again in 1969.
Since at the time these guns were erroneously thought to be carronades, the island on which they had been found was named Carronade Island after this discovery. Several 20th century observers misconstrue the origin of these guns and they were long thought to give weight to the theory of Portuguese discovery of Australia.
However, scientists at the Western Australian Museum in Fremantle have recently made a detailed analysis and have determined that these weapons are almost certainly of Makassan, rather than European, origin.