White’s Ferry shut down in 2020. A land donation to Montgomery Co. could bring back the Potomac River crossing

There is newfound hope that ferry services that once carried up to 800 cars a day across the Potomac River between Montgomery and Loudoun counties could resume.

The current owners of White’s Ferry, Chuck and Stacy Kuhn, have made a formal offer to donate the ferry landing property to Montgomery County. They hope this could help bring back ferry services between Poolesville, Maryland, and Leesburg, Virginia.

The Kuhns bought White’s Ferry in 2021 after the previous owner ended operations in 2020. The closure was the result of a dispute with the owner of the ferry landing on the Virginia side of the Potomac River.

In an interview with WTOP, Chuck Kuhn, who is also the founder of JK Moving Services, said he was unable to resolve differences with the owners of Rockland Farm, which includes the Virginia ferry landing.

He is strategically making the donation to the county so “the ferry operation is owned by a governmental entity,” Kuhn said.

“Then if they are unsuccessful in working with Rockland Farm, like we had been, they could approach VDOT to use eminent domain to gain access to the Virginia shoreline and get the ferry open again,” he said.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and County Council President Andrew Friedson have welcomed the offer from the Kuhns.

Elrich wrote in a statement that representatives from the Montgomery County Department of Transportation met with representatives for the Kuhns on Tuesday morning “to begin discussing the nature and timing of the donation.”

Elrich said he’s looking forward to a positive resolution as quickly as possible.

Since the Kuhns purchased White’s Ferry, there had been negotiations over the course of three years with the owners of Rockland Farm, but those talks stalled.

Rockland Farm owner Libby Devlin told WTOP she’s very pleased with the donation.

“I look forward to working with Montgomery and Loudoun counties to get the ferry open as quickly as possible,” Devlin said.

When asked what change would allow for a rapid resumption of the ferry operations, Devlin offered few details.

“We were always looking for an inflation-adjusted 50 cents per car,” she said, adding that it was very reasonable.

She, along with Friedson, is hoping the shift in ownership could lead to the ferry opening quickly.

“Our regional transportation network doesn’t need to be held hostage based on a dispute between private property owners,” Friedson said. He also clarified that the donation is just the beginning of an ongoing process.

“This doesn’t resolve all of the issues,” he said.

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Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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