Anacortes in Skagit County, Washington — The American West (Northwest)
Powered by Steam
The W.T. Preston's steam-powered engines were first installed on the Swinomish in 1914, then transferred with most of the machinery to the new wood-hulled W.T. Preston in 1929, and to her steel-hulled replacement in 1939.
Originally fired with cordwood, the steam boiler was later converted to burn heavy fuel oil. Modern burners, installed in 1967, used lighter diesel fuel, greatly improving combustion and reducing air pollution.
Typical operating speed in smooth water was 6 to 7 knots and, in mildly rough water, 3 to 5 knots. The paddlewheel churned at 16 revolutions per minute in normal cruising.
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.
[Photo captions read]
At right, the W.T. Preston is seen steaming across Puget Sound. The flat bottom and shallow draft of sternwheelers such as the Preston let them go far upriver but
Photo courtesy of the Anacortes Museum, Wallie Funk Collection.
The diagram at far right shows the basics of sternwheel operations. It is by Ronald R. Burke from his book "Heritage of a Snagboat: Story of the W.T. Preston."
The photo below at far right shows a crewman watching the main boiler of the W.T. Preston. The boiler provided steam to power the Preston's stern paddlewheel.
Photo courtesy of the Anacortes Museum
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 Features • Waterways & Vessels.
Location. 48° 30.983′ N, 122° 36.556′ W. Marker is in Anacortes, Washington, in Skagit County. Marker is on R Avenue north of 7th 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 (within shouting distance of this marker); Snagging (within shouting distance of this marker); Depot, circa 1915 (within shouting distance of this marker); Paul & Nicolo Luvera Charles Pinson, USN (approx. 0.2 miles away); "Anne Curtis Bowman" (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.
Also see . . .
1. Anacortes Maritime Heritage Center & W.T. Preston Sternwheeler. (Submitted on May 31, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. USACE Historical Vignette 120 - Snagboats. (Submitted on May 31, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. The Snagboat W. T. Preston: A Case Study in the Dry Berth Preservation of Historic Vessels. (Submitted on May 31, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
4. A Sternwheeler of the 1860s.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on May 31, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 382 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on May 31, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.