Anacortes in Skagit County, Washington — The American West (Northwest)
Life Aboard a Snagboat
A skipper and crew of up to 14 lived and worked on the W.T. Preston. River maintenance skills were cultivated and passed to the next generation. A diligent fireman could earn a license and work up to engineer. Deckhands were promoted to mate and eventually to captain - if the post became available. In 97 years of operations, Puget Sound's snagboats had only 7 captains.
Except for the firemen, who ran the boilers around the clock, the crew kept regular hours. When men weren't clearing snags, they washed decks, painted, cleaned boilers or sharpened tools. Work was usually done by 4:30, and evenings were spent aboard or in town.
Norman Hamburg, who began as a cabin boy on the Swinomish and retired as captain of the Preston in 1969, said snagboats often worked odd hours to help out a neighbor, perhaps lifting a tug and cleaning a fouled propeller or plucking a farmer's cow out of the river and placing it back on the bank.
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]
Left: Cook Fritz Rydberg prepares a meal on
Above left: Captain George Murch relaxes in his quarters. Most of the crew's quarters had room for little more than bunk beds.
Above center: Four crewmen pose on the bow of the Preston while visitors look around.
Above right: Captain Norman Hamburg at the pilot wheel.
Right: Crewman Stan Nelson splices rope.
Photos courtesy of the Anacortes Museum
[For more information visit] http://museum.cityofanacortes.org
Erected by Anacortes Museum & Maritime Center, Anacortes Parks & Recreation Dept., and Anacortes Tourism Promotion Fund.
Location. 48° 30.967′ N, 122° 36.557′ 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.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Snagging (a few steps from this marker); Powered by Steam (within shouting distance of this marker); Depot, circa 1915 (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Paul & Nicolo Luvera "Anne Curtis Bowman" (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.
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.)
Categories. • Man-Made Features • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on May 31, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 368 times since then and 14 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on May 31, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.