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Catalog Number 2013.043.001
Object Name Article
Scope & Content Newspaper article from THE SUNDAY OLYMPIAN, November 1, 1981 about the W. T. PRESTON.

Article heading: "Preston's Job Ends". Three photos are in the half-page article: 1) "PRESTON's boom lifts tree stump from Skagit River; snag is headed for bank where it won't post problem for boaters"; 2) "Sternwheeler W. T. PRESTON heads up north fork of Skagit River, Boat was retired Saturday after some 50 years of service around sound"; and 3) Captain Virgil Welsh, Jr. Surveys River, Photo was taken during recent cleanup operation".

Article reads: LaConner (SP) -- The W. T. Preston, a slow-moving, stern-wheeler that steam-cleaned Puget Sound for 52 years, has grappled its last snag.

The Preston plodded around Puget Sound since 1929, picking up logs, snags, deadheads and other navigation hazards.

The Preston, with a crew of 13, was retired Saturday by the U. S. Army corps of Engineers, primarily because of a manpower cutback, said the skipper, Capt. Sandy Welsh, 41.

The snagboat's 17-foot paddle wheel lent an air of romantic yesteryear to humdrum toil. Welsh could count on attracting small crowds when his boat chugged near the shore, white steam billowing, in pursuit of a bobbing tree limb.

"People would run out and you could see them signaling with their arms to blow the whistle. It didn't take much to make me lay on that whistle. From Rocky Point, Tacoma, Olympia, all over, they loved to hear it," said Welsh.

The boat was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. That meant it couldn't be modernized. So there was no radar. And the captain issued orders to the engine room through a highly polished brass tube instead of an intercom.

Sternwheelers are near-extinct. The steam-powered sternwheel tugboat Portland, owned by the Port of Portland and operated on the Columbia and Willamette rivers in Oregon, also will be retired this week

"It's an end of an era all around," said Welsh."
Title Preston's Job Ends
Caption W.T. PRESTON retires
Date 1981/11/01
People WELSH, Jr, Virgil "Sandy", Captain
Search Terms W. T. PRESTON
news article
Subjects Maritime - Boat