Virginia-side landowner of White’s Ferry wants it reopened

On average, more than 700 cars traveled between Loudoun County, Virginia, and Montgomery County, Maryland, daily on White’s Ferry.

Libby Devlin, who owns Rockland Farm and the Virginia-landing of the ferry, has tried to hash out a deal with the ferry’s new owners to reopen it.

“I would like it if we could sit down and negotiate something,” she said. “The ferry is an important part of Rockland. It’s part of our family’s history and the community enjoys using it.”

In December, the ferry’s former owner stopped operations after a decision by Loudoun County Circuit Court regarding the ferry’s right to use land on the Virginia side of the river. The decision was just one part in a decades-long legal battle between the Maryland family that formerly owned and operated the ferry and Devlin’s family.

Then in April, a new owner took over the ferry. Chuck Kuhn purchased it and promised to get it operational again through eminent domain with Loudoun County.

Devlin said she has approached him many times with offers. But, nothing has worked.

“The county wanted us to negotiate privately,” she said. “All of our offers were flat out rejected by the new owner. We don’t want to see that part of our history gone and taken by the county.”

Earlier this week, Montgomery and Loudoun counties released a joint study that looked at what it would take to increase usage of the ferry.

In a statement to WTOP News, Kuhn, said he “appreciates the work and insights from the recent joint study by Montgomery and Loudoun Counties.”

“The impasse has cost people time and money and added traffic and environmental woes to our community,” he said. “We look to the counties to help us move forward and support whatever direction they deem best to get White’s Ferry working for our region.”

Drivers who used it often have complained that they don’t have access to it anymore, making their commutes longer.

When it last ran, it took approximately six minutes to load the ferry, three-and-a-half minutes to cross the Potomac River and six minutes to unload on the other side.

Since White’s Ferry has run on-demand — when the ferry operator decides there are enough vehicles to warrant a trip across the river — it would be difficult to have more than four round trips per hour.

“The ferry is fun,” Devlin said. “We have been opened to negotiation. We remain flexible as long as we can find a solution that’s fair to all sides.”

WTOP’s Neal Augenstein contributed to this report. 

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