Near the mouth of the Stillaguamish River. Once the land around the town was a marsh where skunk cabbage spread their broad green leaves and massive yellow flowers and cattails throve. In 1866, a settler named Robert Fulton opened a small trading post there; gradually in the course of years the marsh has been reclaimed by the stubborn persistence of the inhabitants. Bit by bit the pools where frogs croaked were drained and the swaying willows were cleared.
By the 1940s, Stanwood had a large oyster cannery and two fruit and vegetable packing plants. Thousands of bushels of oats, destined to be “Quaker Rolled Oats,” annually passed through the local warehouse on their way to Iowa. Peas were harvested by the ton. The town was also the distribution center for the dairy farms of the surrounding country.
For 30 years Stanwood had “the world’s shortest railroad,” an independent line running seven-eighths of a mile to East Stanwood. Trains were drawn by “the dinky,” a decrepit old Climax locomotive, which wheezed noisily through the streets. Lack of patronage compelled its discontinuance in 1938.
The town once had a large Scandinavian population. When a post office was established in 1877 the name was Centerville. The present name is the family name of the first postmaster’s wife, Clara Stanwood Pearson. Stanwood and East Stanwood were consolidated in 1961.