Prior to European settlement, the Sammamish River Valley from Lake Washington to Issaquah Creek south and upstream of Lake Sammamish was inhabited by a population of as many as 200 native Americans known as the Sammamish. The Sammamish were relocated after the Puget Sound War in 1856 to reservations and non-reservation lands.
In 1870, Columbus S. Greenleaf and George R. Wilson filed land claims in the area abandoned by the Sammamish near present-day Bothell, and built homes. Eight families followed over the next six years. In 1876, Canadian George Brackett bought land and began commercial logging out of a camp located on the north bank of the Sammamish River in what is now the heart of downtown Bothell. A store, school, and sawmill followed over the next several years.
In 1885, Brackett sold 80 acres (320,000 m2) to David Bothell, a settler from Pennsylvania. The town’s first postmaster, who bought his property from Bothell, named the town in his honor in 1888. Later that same year, a local railroad was built through the town to transport coal from Issaquah. Bothell was officially incorporated on April 14, 1909.
After World War II, better highways and a post-war boom brought suburban development to Bothell. These new neighborhoods and a series of annexations dramatically expanded Bothell’s population from about 1000 in 1950 to over 30,000 as of 2006. Bothell was mostly a bedroom community for people working in Seattle until the 1990s when business development brought new jobs to create a regional employment center with about 20,000 jobs, many in high technology sectors such as biotechnology and software development. In 2000, a branch campus of the University of Washington opened in Bothell, co-located with Cascadia Community College.