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The W.T. PRESTON was the last sternwheeler to work in Puget Sound and is one of only two snagboats remaining in the contiguous United States. Her crews removed navigational hazards from the bays and harbors of the Sound and from its tributary rivers.
The first settlements in the heavily timbered areas of Washington were located along rivers, which served as the region's highways. On some of these rivers, snags threatened navigation and if not removed grew into larger logjams blocking passage of the boats. Shifting sand bars, particularly in delta areas, also obstructed navigation. In response to these conditions, Congress in 1882 allocated $20,000 for the construction of a snagboat to free the rivers from navigational hazards.
The SKAGIT was the first of three steam-powered snagboats built to maintain the rivers, serving from 1885 to1914, when she was replaced by the SWINOMISH. In turn, the SWINOMISH was succeeded in 1929 by the wooden-hulled W.T. PRESTON, named in honor of a distinguished civilian engineer who worked for the Seattle District Army Corps of Engineers.
The PRESTON operated as far north as Blaine and south to Olympia and Shelton. She worked 11 months out of the year, retrieving thousands of SNAGS, piles, floats and other debris, including a damaged airplane, fish boats, derelict scows, and houseboats. In addition to her snagging chores, she was used as a pile driver and icebreaker, and dredged about 3500 cubic yards of material in an average year. From: Anacortes.net