The oldest town in Stevens County, it moved to a higher bench about a mile and a half north, near the big plants of the Spokane-Portland Cement Company and the United States Gypsum Company. In 1896, the place boomed as a result of the opening of the north half of the Colville Indian Reservation to mining. When the Columbia River was an important arterial, Marcus was the southern terminus for steamboats which navigated for some distance into British Columbia. Several stern-wheelers were built at Marcus.
Marcus was named for Marcus Oppenheimer, first settler and pioneer merchant. In 1859 the British Boundary Commission built comfortable barracks here. Oppeheimer used these barracks until 1881, when, after the withdrawal of American troops, the buildings were removed.