History of Stanwood

Stanwood was first known as Centerville. It was a small trading post located on the South Pass of the Stillaguamish River. To avail itself of trade coming in from West Pass as well, Centerville was moved to its present location along the waterfront of the Stillaguamish River. A wharf was built along with businesses that lined the waterfront to supply the needs of the citizens of the area. D.O. Pearson came to Centerville in 1879 and constructed a mercantile store on the waterfront. He became Centerville’s seventh postmaster and changed the name of the town, at the request of the United States Government, to Stanwood in honor of his wife’s maiden name, Clara Stanwood Pearson.

Historical Photo of Steamboat at Florence Landing

Agricultural products and lumber were shipped out of Stanwood by steamboat. In 1890 the Great Northern Railway came to town-not through Stanwood, but a mile east, hugging the base of the hill. A separate town, East Stanwood, sprang up to meet the needs of shipping goods by rail. Steamboat traffic began to dwindle over the years as a result.

Stanwood incorporated in 1904. Businesses had begun to move north from the waterfront, relocating along Market Street (102nd Avenue Northwest). The H&H Railroad was built to transport lumber and farm products from Stanwood to the main rail line in East Stanwood. The waterfront became a place for warehouses and processing plants. In later years the Lien Brothers purchased the plants for processing vegetables. In 1949 the Lervick family purchased the plant, naming it Twin City Foods. By 1915 the Pacific Coast Condensed Milk Company moved from the waterfront to East Stanwood at the base of the hill. Later it became a vegetable cannery.

Historical Photo of H&H Railroad Engine

The road to Camano Island was created when a bridge was built in 1909. By 1913 roads in Stanwood and East Stanwood had been paved with brick. Automobile and bus traffic would come from the South up the Pacific Highway to East Stanwood, go west to Stanwood, and then north to Skagit County.

East Stanwood, incorporated in 1914, along with Stanwood was the hub for all of the small towns surrounding them-Warm Beach, Florence, Woodland, Victoria, Freeborn, Cedarhome, and Camano Island. Each had its own grade schools, but students would come to East Stanwood or Stanwood for high school. In 1944 East Stanwood and Stanwood school districts consolidated, becoming Twin City High School.

Historical Photo of Snowy Stanwood Street

Soon major changes came to Stanwood and East Stanwood. Because of new requirements for wastewater facilities, which neither town could afford on its own, they consolidated into one entity in 1960. In the late 50s, Highway 532 had been constructed from Terry’s Corner to the top of the hill in East Stanwood (72nd Avenue). Then in the early 70s, it was extended to Interstate 5 and is the 532 corridor we have today. In the 1990s a third business district was built on the hill, and large subdivisions were allowed into annexations north and east of the original towns.

History Summary by Dave Eldridge, former Planning Commission Member of 19 years and a trustee with the Stanwood Area Historical Society.