(Washington, DC) — Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-Md.) today named the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry, the nation’s oldest privately operated ferry service, the Senate Small Business of the Week.
The Oxford-Bellevue Ferry began operating in 1683, more than 90 years before the founding of the United States, to connect the towns of Oxford and Bellevue in what is now Talbot County, Maryland. Current owners Judy and Tom Bixler purchased the ferry and moved to Maryland in 2001.
Since moving to Maryland the Bixlers have become pillars in the Talbot County community—receiving the Community Impact Award from the Talbot County Department of Economic Development and Tourism in 2018—and are leaders in the Maryland tourism industry, with Judy Bixler serving as Chair of the Maryland Tourism Development Board since last year.
“I was proud to stand with Tom and Judy for the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry’s 325th anniversary celebration in 2008 and am proud to recognize their continued success today,” Ranking Member Cardin said in the Congressional Record statement. “I hope the ferry will still be transporting Marylanders and tourists across the Tred Avon River for many years to come.”
The full text of the Congressional Record statement follows:
Mr. President, I am proud to name Oxford-Bellevue Ferry, believed to be our nation’s oldest privately owned ferry, as the United States Senate Small Business of the Week.
Currently owned and operated by Judy and Tom Bixler, the ferry has transported residents and tourists between the towns of Oxford and Bellevue across the Tred Avon River since 1683—more than 90 years before the colonies came together to form the United States, making it one of the oldest companies in the country.
Over the past three centuries, the ferry has become a part of the fabric of the community, with some residents calling it “the pulse of the river.” Residents have also come to associate the sound of the ferry’s engine with the turning of the seasons: the first sounds mark the beginning of spring, while the ferry’s final rumble of the year lets them know that fall has arrived.
Tom and Judy purchased the ferry route and moved to Maryland in 2001; since then they have not only been good stewards of the ferry’s history, but they have become pillars in the Oxford community and leaders in Maryland’s tourism industry.
Last year, Judy was appointed Chair of the Maryland Tourism Development Board, where she advocates for Maryland’s tourism industry and helps market Maryland as a tourist destination. In 2018, Tom and Judy were awarded the Community Impact Award by the Talbot County Department of Economic Development and Tourism for their commitment to serving Talbot County, its visitors, and its residents.
I was proud to stand with Tom and Judy for the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry’s 325th anniversary celebration in 2008 and am proud to recognize their continued success today. I hope the ferry will still be transporting Marylanders and tourists across the Tred Avon River for many years to come.