“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Anacortes in Skagit County, Washington — The American West (Northwest)


Snagging Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By William Fischer, Jr., May 19, 2014
1. Snagging Marker

By 1882, Puget Sound's rivers were served by hundreds of steam paddlewheelers with such shallow drafts people joked they could "float on a heavy dew." Because their flat-bottomed hulls were easily punctured by submerged stumps and debris, Congress allocated $20,000 for a snagboat and, under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, three steam-powered sternwheelers kept the region's tributaries cleared for 97 years - the Skagit (launched in 1885), the Swinomish (1914) and finally the W.T. Preston (1929 and 1939).

The Preston used a 70-foot boom and a 1¼-cubic yard clamshell dredging bucket. Fore and aft steel "spuds" were lowered through the hull to anchor her to the bottom. Crews located submerged hazards by sweeping riverbeds with cable suspended between two skiffs.

W.T. Preston Snagboat
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operated steam-powered sternwheeler "snagboats" in rivers from Blaine to Olympia, to keep the region's tributaries clear of navigational hazards. The W.T. Preston was the last of the sternwheelers.

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obstructions were grappled & hoisted aboard; large ones were sometimes dynamited. Above, Norman Hamburg overseas as a large strump is lifted with the boom in 1958.

[Top center] This diagram detailing snagboat anatomy is from Ronald R. Burke's book "Heritage of a Snagboat: Story of the W.T. Preston"

[Top right] The 1,100 cubic yards of debris collected by the W.T. Preston each year was burned on a barge or deposited ashore. Above, logs and debris are seen from the sternwheelers bow.

Photos courtesy of the Anacortes Museum

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Erected by Anacortes Museum & Maritime Center, Anacortes Parks & Recreation Dept., and Anacortes Tourism Promotion Fund.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Man-Made FeaturesWaterways & Vessels. A significant historical year for this entry is 1882.
Location. 48° 30.954′ N, 122° 36.557′ W. Marker is in Anacortes, Washington, in Skagit County. Marker is on R Avenue north of 9th Street, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 703 R Avenue, Anacortes WA 98221, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Life Aboard a Snagboat (a few steps from this marker); Powered by Steam (within shouting distance of this marker); Depot, circa 1915
<i>W.T. Preston</i> Illustration on Snagging Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Unknown, 1998
2. W.T. Preston Illustration on Snagging Marker
(about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); "Anne Curtis Bowman" (approx. 0.2 miles away); Paul & Nicolo Luvera (approx. 0.2 miles away); Charles Pinson, USN (approx. 0.2 miles away); Island Flyer (approx. ¼ mile away); Causland Park (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Anacortes.
<i>W.T. Preston</i> and Snagging Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By William Fischer, Jr., May 19, 2014
3. W.T. Preston and Snagging Marker
Marker at bottom center of photo
Credits. This page was last revised on October 14, 2020. It was originally submitted on May 31, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 403 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on May 31, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

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Jun. 5, 2023