The development of rich timberland established South Bend as the key point in the water and stagecoach transportation system of the Washington Territory in the late 1800's. Determined not to relinquish the title of county seat of Pacific County to its rival town of Oysterville during an election dispute in 1892, South Bend citizens abruptly removed all books and records from the Oysterville courthouse. South Bend remains the county seat today. The historic Pacific County Courthouse was built in 1910 at a cost of over $100,000.
Aquaculture had its start in South Bend in the early 1900s, when almost 100 carloads of Chesapeake oysters were planted in the bay. The largest oyster processing plant in the nation is located here.
South Bend is situated on Highway 101 on the eastern shores of Willapa Bay, not far from Raymond.