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Kate Ward begins her career as first river steamer on the Colorado


On this day in 1845, the Kate Ward, the first steamboat to operate on the Colorado River, was launched at Matagorda. She was owned by George Ward and a Mr. Robinson of Columbus, and was named for Ward's sister Kate. The vessel was a side-wheel steamer, 115 feet long and twenty-four feet wide at the beam, with two engines rated at seventy horsepower each and a draft of eighteen inches. From 1846 to 1848 she stayed above the Colorado River raft. In the summer of 1848 high water on the river cut a channel around the raft and the Kate Ward descended to Matagorda Bay. From about 1848 to 1850 she operated on the Guadalupe clearing drift and providing transportation from Victoria to the bay. In 1852, as a snag boat, she cleared twenty miles of channel upstream from the mouth. In 1853 the Kate Ward was sold to the United States government. What became of her later is unknown.

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