Believed to be named after Governor Isaac I. Stevens, Lake Stevens was first settled in 1886 on a 160-acre homestead along the east shore. 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 which caused its founding. However, by then a flourishing town was established and continued under its own momentum.
From the 1920s to the 50s 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.