White's Ferry

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White's Ferry on the Potomac River

White's Ferry is a cable ferry service operating across the Potomac River. It is located six miles west of Poolesville, Maryland, and north of Leesburg, Virginia. It is the only ferry still operating on the Potomac River. The General Jubal A. Early carries cars, bicycles, and pedestrians between Maryland and Virginia.

Current operation[edit]

It runs continuously from 5 am to 11 pm, unless major flooding occurs. The fare is as follows:

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 restaurant is traditionally open from Memorial day to Labor day 6am to 8pm.


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.

More than a convenient river crossing, the ferry provided a place of commerce between the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and the surrounding community. Farmers from Virginia used the ferry to get their crops to markets in Maryland and Washington, D.C. via the canal. In the days before modern refrigeration, a farmer's access to reliable transportation meant the difference between prosperity and watching a year's worth of work rot in storage. Together, the ferry and the canal shortened the time it took farmers to get their goods to market. To further assist them, White built a granary along the canal to store grains until they could be loaded and shipped via the canal.[3] Its stone remains can still be seen in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park near mile marker 35.5.

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, 9 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 is the location of 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]


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 street address for the terminal on the Maryland side is 24801 White's Ferry Road, Dickerson, Maryland 20842

Cultural references[edit]


  1. ^ "Our War Correspondence From The Divisions of Banks and Stone" (PDF). The New York Times. November 1, 1861. Retrieved August 14, 2009. 
  2. ^ Peck, Garrett (2012). The Potomac River: A History and Guide. Charleston, SC: The History Press. p. 60. ISBN 978-1609496005. 
  3. ^ NPS Publication Granaries at Whites Ferry and Monocacy Village. Leaflet lacks publication date or publication number.
  4. ^ Kunkle, Fredrick (September 15, 2006). "Mutinous Ferry Roils the Waters". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 10, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Ferry keeps running, will be fined". Loudoun County, Virginia: Loudoun Times-Mirror. October 5, 2006. 
  6. ^ Wilgoren, Debbi (December 12, 2008). "Passengers Evacuated From Stalled Md. Ferry". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 12, 2008. 
  7. ^ Williams, Clarence (December 10, 2009). "Potomac ferry snag leaves passengers stranded". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 12, 2009. 
  8. ^ "White's Ferry passengers stranded on Potomac". WTOP-FM. December 2, 2010. Retrieved December 2, 2010. 
  9. ^ Stern, Nicholas (May 18, 2008). "Wounded veterans get time to heal at picnic". The Frederick News-Post. Retrieved August 9, 2009. 

External links[edit]