By: Wesley N. Laing

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: November 1, 1994

The Ariel, the first steamboat used in Texas waters, was the property of Henry Austin, who brought the vessel to the mouth of the Rio Grande in June 1829 to experiment with steam navigation on the river. In October the Texas Gazette reported that the Ariel had ascended 300 miles up the river to Revilla and was making regular runs between Matamoros and Camargo. After a year Austin gave up the project and arranged to visit Stephen F. Austin's colony in Texas. In August 1830 he reached the mouth of the Brazos and ascended to Brazoria. After exploring Brazos waters, he decided that a boat business could not be made profitable and decided to sail for New Orleans. The Ariel was almost wrecked attempting to cross the Brazos bar and put out to sea in a damaged condition; it was forced to return. After three attempts to reach the United States, the ship put back into Galveston Bay and was laid up to rot in the San Jacinto River.

William R. Hogan, Life and Letters of Henry Austin (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1932). William Ransom Hogan, "Life of Henry Austin," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 37 (January 1934). Bernice Lockhart, Navigating Texas Rivers, 1821–1900 (M.A. thesis, St. Mary's University, 1949).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Wesley N. Laing, “Ariel,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 02, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994