Little River was first settled by Lloyd and Samuel Bell, and the Moore Brothers. Shortly after, in 1856, W.H. Kent purchased the Bell tract and until 1862 the place was known as Bells Harbor and Kents Landing. In that year Ruel Stickney, Silas Coombs, and Tapping Reeves built a mill here, which provided the stimulus for the formation the town of Little River. This coastal mill town grew with the success of the mill so that eventually a schoolhouse, post house, shipyard, hotels, stores and blacksmith shops all established themselves here. Little River prospered in a similar way to many other towns on the Mendocino Coast until the nearby inland timber stands faltered. The Little River mill closed in 1893. The loss of the mill shrunk the town and since that time it has served mainly as a travelers destination due to its beaches and Van Damme State Park, which the Little River runs through.