Oxford-Bellevue Ferry" by Paul McGehee. The nation's oldest
privately-operated ferry service, the Oxford-Bellevue ferry has been
running continuously since 1683. Crossing the Tred Avon River, the
ferry connects the historic Maryland towns of St. Michaels and Oxford.
Established on November 20, 1683 as a ferry service for "horses and
men," the ferry keepers were originally paid in tobacco instead of
cash. The ferryboats in the early years were propelled by sculling,
using oars augmented with sails to catch the power of the wind. In 1886
a coal-burning tugboat named the "William H. Fisher" was employed to
tow the ferry on her route, followed in 1912 by the gasoline tug
"Vivian," which ran until 1931. That particular year, the first
self-propelled Oxford-Bellevue ferry was launched. She was a 50' long
craft and could carry two automobiles with a handful of passengers.
Named the "Tred Avon," she was built locally in Oxford, Maryland and
plied the waters of the beautiful Tred Avon River for the next 43
years. She proved so popular that in 1950 she was lengthened by 6' to
accommodate three cars and converted to diesel power. Many on the
Eastern Shore in the 1950's used this little ferry on a daily basis.
The "Tred Avon" took upwards of 20 minutes to cross and return, whereas
the route by road was long and arduous, with few bridges across the
many inlets and waterways to shorten the drive. In this nostalgic
scene, "Tred Avon" is shown at dusk in the Autumn of 1956. There have
been two ferries since "Tred Avon" was retired in 1974, the "Southside"
and the "Talbot." Truly a piece of living history, the latest
Oxford-Bellevue Ferry can carry up to nine cars...she still runs each
day with continuous crossings from morning until sunset. "The
Oxford-Bellevue Ferry" is faithfully reproduced
as an archival-quality print from
McGehee's original color pencil drawing, each hand-signed by the artist.