White's Ferry

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White's Ferry on the Potomac River

White's Ferry is the only cable ferry service that carries cars, bicycles, and pedestrians across the Potomac River. White's Ferry is located at 39°9′17.26″N 77°31′13.50″W / 39.1547944°N 77.5204167°W / 39.1547944; -77.5204167. The location offers fishing services and rentals of water recreation including canoeing. The street address for the terminal on the Maryland side is 24801 White's Ferry Road, Dickerson, Maryland 20842.

History[edit]

Early settlers recognized that the relatively still waters of the Potomac River at the location would provide an ideal location for a ferry. The first known ferry operation at the location was Conrad's Ferry, pronounced contemporaneously by the locals as "Coonrod's Ferry" [1] in 1817. After the Civil War, former Confederate officer Elijah V. White purchased it and made many improvements to the service. He named his ferry boat in honor of his former commander, General Jubal Anderson Early.[2]

Maryland Route 107 (White's Ferry Road) crosses the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal at White's Ferry. Note the stone ruins of the granary on the left

Currently the ferry is owned by Malcolm Brown, whose father purchased the location in 1946 with other business partners. He eventually bought out his partners and shipped new ferries from Baltimore in 1953 and from Norfolk in 1988; both of which were named after Confederate General Jubal A. Early because of his, "rebellious, no surrender attitude". [3]

Current operation[edit]

The Jubal A. Early runs continuously from 5 am to 11 pm, unless major flooding occurs. The cash only fare is as follows:

  • Cars: $5 one way, $8 round trip
  • Motorcycles: $3
  • Bicycles: $2
  • Foot pedestrians: $1
  • Trailers: $3 per axle
  • Trucks: $5,$7,$9,$12. depending on size of truck

The Ferry can hold approximately 20-24 cars in a single trip and takes under 2 minutes to load, 5 minutes to cross, and another 2 minutes to unload.

The ferry's store sells groceries and bait, and offers rental services for rowboats, canoes and the location's picnic tables.

Recent events[edit]

Loading on the Virginia side, with a view of the Maryland side
Crossing the river on the Gen. Jubal A. Early

On September 13, 2006, the United States Coast Guard ordered White's Ferry to be shut down because the operator was unlicensed. The ferry continued to operate in spite of the order.[4] The next day the Coast Guard allowed the ferry to resume operations after the owners assured the Coast Guard that there would be licensed individuals on the vessel. For operating without a licensed operator the ferry was fined $8000, which it could appeal.[5]

On December 12, 2008, passengers were evacuated from the ferry when it became stuck shortly after 8:10 a.m. during a routine crossing from Maryland to Virginia.[6]

On December 10, 2009, nearly 30 passengers were stranded on White's Ferry in the Potomac River for about three hours when the boat was snagged by a tree floating downstream.[7]

On December 2, 2010, nine vehicles, along with 14 passengers, were stranded on White's Ferry when it became hung up on debris floating down the Potomac River. As workers removed the debris, more came down the river and snapped the ferry's cable. The boat came to rest about 150 yards downstream.[8]

Each May, White's Ferry hosts an event honoring wounded soldiers recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Escorted to the area by a large motorcycle honor guard, the soldiers enjoy a day of music, food, fishing, and rides on the Ferry. The event is sponsored by the town of Poolesville, MD, and receives support from many groups and individuals within the community.[9]

Cultural references[edit]

  • Maryland rock band Clutch has a song entitled "White's Ferry", written about the sights frontman Neil Fallon saw on a drive around some country roads in Maryland and Virginia that took him over the Potomac on the ferry.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Our War Correspondence From The Divisions of Banks and Stone". The New York Times. November 1, 1861. Retrieved February 7, 2014. 
  2. ^ Peck, Garrett (2012). The Potomac River: A History and Guide. Charleston, SC: The History Press. p. 60. ISBN 978-1609496005. 
  3. ^ Barned-Smith, St. John (November 1, 2012). "White’s Ferry’s swift trips across the Potomac have long history". The Gazette. Retrieved February 7, 2014. 
  4. ^ Kunkle, Fredrick (September 15, 2006). "Mutinous Ferry Roils the Waters". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 7, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Ferry keeps running, will be fined". Loudoun Times-Mirror. February 7, 2014. 
  6. ^ Wilgoren, Debbi (December 12, 2008). "Passengers Evacuated From Stalled Md. Ferry". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 7, 2014. 
  7. ^ Williams, Clarence (December 10, 2009). "Potomac ferry snag leaves passengers stranded". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 7, 2014. 
  8. ^ "White's Ferry passengers stranded on Potomac". WTOP-FM. December 2, 2010. Retrieved February 7, 2014. 
  9. ^ Stern, Nicholas C. (May 18, 2008). "Wounded veterans get time to heal at picnic". The Frederick News-Post. Retrieved February 7, 2014. 

External links[edit]