Fun Fact: Which Maryland County Holds America’s Oldest Privately Owned Ferry Route?

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In November of 1683, Talbot County established a ferry service for “horses and men” that continues to be the oldest privately owned, continuously operated ferry in America.

For 25,000 lbs. of tobacco a year, Richard Royston was charged with operating the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry – which crosses the Tred Avon River – linking the towns of Bellevue and Oxford, Maryland.

Operation of the ferry has evolved throughout the decades. In its early years, the ferry was powered by sails and oars, then by coal-powered steam in the late 1800’s, followed by gasoline in the early 1900’s. Today, the diesel-powered vessel is known as the “Talbot” and has gone from transporting wagons and horses, to automobiles (9 to be exact), motorcycles and even RV’s along with the regular pedestrian foot traffic.

In January of this year, the United States Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship recognized the Oxford Bellevue Ferry as the Senate Small Business of the Week.


Do you have a fun fact to share about your county? If so, please send it to Allison Valliant to be featured in MACo’s weekly Fun Fact on Conduit Street.