White’s Ferry’s return delayed by months

The White’s Ferry reopening has been significantly delayed. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

The resumption of the White’s Ferry crossing between Poolesville, Maryland, and Leesburg, Virginia, may not happen until next year because negotiations to land on the Virginia side of the Potomac River have stalled.

Loudoun County businessman Chuck Kuhn and his wife Stacy purchased the White’s Ferry operation in February with plans to resume the automobile ferry crossings this month. In a statement, Kuhn said the Kuhn family “has encountered obstacles to reopening the ferry, pushing back the opening day up to 10 months,” without elaborating.

Kuhn purchased the ferry operations and the Maryland side White’s Ferry store in an all-cash transaction for an undisclosed sum, with intentions of buying the Virginia land site or negotiating a permanent easement with its owner Rockland Farm LLC.

Rockland Farm responded to the Kuhn’s announcement by saying it remains open to working with the White’s Ferry, county and state officials to get the ferry operating again but insists on fair compensation and is not interested in an easement or land sale. It instead proposed being paid 50 cents per vehicle that uses the ferry.

“Because the landing is part of Rockland’s history and its owners want to preserve Rockland as a working farm with ongoing streams of income from the use of its land, the owners were not interested in a permanent sale or easement,” said Rockland Farm resident, owner and manager Libby Devlin in an emailed statement to WTOP. “Mr. Kuhn’s offer for a permanent sale or easement of Rockland’s landing remained a small fraction of the value of the ferry operation.”

Rockland continues to assert that 50 cents per vehicle is a reasonable fee for use of its landing.

The ferry ceased operations in December 2020, after a judge’s decision in a decade-long court case brought by Rockland Farm that alleged the ferry had been trespassing on its land since the end of a licensing agreement in 2004. Rockland Farm said at the time it had proposed buying the ferry operations itself but said the previous owner did not engage.

White’s Ferry, which dates back to 1786, was carrying roughly 800 vehicles a day before the pandemic.

Kuhn, one of the largest landowners in Loudoun County, most of which is in conservation easement, is founder and CEO of JK Moving Services, one of the largest independently-owned moving companies in the country.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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