For centuries, Nisqually people roamed the rivers and streams of the Eatonville area. Leschi, one of the main leaders of Nisqually was born in this area in 1808.
Indian Henry, another Nisqually, was one of those who, in 1889, guided the town's founder, Thomas C. Van Eaton, from Mashell Prairie to the present site of Eatonville. It is said that upon arrival, Henry declared, "This good place. Not much snow."
Area settlers and Nisqually were in need of goods, which "T.C." provided at his trading post. Supplies were carried by his stage from Spanaway over a rough trail through dense forest. In 1891, the settlers built the town's first school, which is still in use.
For years Eatonville was a waypoint for visitors to Mount Rainier. In 1902, the Tacoma Eastern Railroad arrived, providing freight and passenger service and a vital link to Tacoma. Soon after the railroad's arrival, several small mills sprang up in the vicinity. In the 70's, the Wildlife park of Northwest Trek was opened and it remains to be one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area, other than Mount Rainier itself.
Eatonville was officially incorporated on October 28, 1909, after the Eatonville Lumber Company brought in more people to work in its mill. The mill's closure in 1954 was a blow to the town, but community spirit and good schools have kept Eatonville alive and growing.