City History

Whether you are doing a report on Lake Stevens, or you are a history buff, you can find historical information about our city here. 


Believed to be named after Governor Isaac I. Stevens, Lake Stevens was first settled in 1886 on a 160-acre homestead along the eastern lakeshore. By 1890, the first town in the area, “Ferry,” was established. Its name was later changed to “Hartford” and it served as the main link from the famed Monte Cristo timber and mining resources to the world.

In 1905, a railroad spur was built by the Rucker Brothers Timber Company, linking Hartford with Lake Stevens. Two years later Rucker Mill was opened, located along and in the north cove of the lake (original pilings can still be seen in the old lake outflow area just south of the boat launch). In 1919, the mill, which became known as the “world’s largest sawmill,” burned and was partially rebuilt. When it burned a second time in 1925, the mill was dismantled and Lake Stevens lost the very industry on which it was founded. However, by then a flourishing town was established and continued under its own momentum.

From the 1920s to the 1950s, Lake Stevens was primarily a resort community, with many public and private resort beaches scattered around the shore. In 1960, Lake Stevens incorporated as a City, with a population of 900. Soon, its popularity and natural beauty, combined with changing commuter habits, attracted more and more residents, changing its character to that of a suburban community.

By 2008 the City had grown to a population of 14,554 and an urban growth area of approximately 17,000 people. The lake remains the focal point of the greater Lake Stevens community for recreation, and as a symbol of our need to provide for a sustainable existence that will protect our natural environment.

Natural History & Habitat

The lake covers approximately 1,000 acres, is 146 feet deep at its deepest point, and is 210 feet above sea level. Its shoreline measures 8 linear miles. Water enters from all points along the shore; however, major contributing watersheds include Lundeen and Stevens Creeks in the north and Stitch Lake in the south.

Although wildlife was much more plentiful at one time, the lake still supports numerous species of fish (bass, kokanee, perch, etc.), waterfowl (swans, geese, ducks, coots, loons, etc.), amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates.