In the 1870s, La Center was a business center and head of navigation on the east fork of the Lewis River. In late summer, the regular schedules of the steamers "Mascot" and "Walker", paddle-wheeling to Portland, were often interrupted by low water. Passengers and freight were transferred to scows, which were poled up the river or towed by horses along the bank. With the arrival of railroads and highways, La Center lost importance and lapsed into a small village serving the surrounding farming district. La Center was officially incorporated on August 27, 1909.