“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Dickerson in Montgomery County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

White’s Ferry

White’s Ferry Marker image. Click for full size.
By Tom Fuchs, November 4, 2006
1. White’s Ferry Marker
Caption reads In the early 1900s as horse and wagon gave way to the Model T, White’s Ferry adapted to the times. Ferryman Charles Ashby Williams leans over the ferry’s railing to check its engine.
Inscription. Before you is the last operating ferry on the Potomac River. Early settlers recognized these relatively still waters would provide an ideal location for a ferry. The first known ferry operation here was Conrad’s Ferry in 1817. After the Civil War, former Confederate soldier Elijah White purchased and made many improvements to the service. He named his ferry boat in honor of his former commander General Jubal Early.

More than a convenient river crossing, the ferry provided a place of commerce between the canal and surrounding community. Farmers from Virginia used the ferry to get their crops to market in Washington, D.C., and Maryland via the C&O 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 canal and the ferry shortened the time it took farmers to get goods to market. Today White’s Ferry continues to serve the needs of its community by providing a safe river crossing and a living link to the past.

(Sidebar) To assist farmers in getting their crops to market, White built a granary along the canal to store grains until they could be loaded and shipped via the canal.
Erected by Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic
White's Ferry Road Crosses the C&O Canal image. Click for full size.
By Tom Fuchs, November 4, 2006
2. White's Ferry Road Crosses the C&O Canal
Sometime after the canal closed and was drained, Whites Ferry Road was rebuilt to cross the canal on a culvert, seen in this photo beyond the bridge that originally carried the road over the canal. The photographer is standing on the towpath. This marker faces the towpath just before the bridge.
Park, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal marker series.
Location. 39° 9.284′ N, 77° 31.043′ W. Marker is near Dickerson, Maryland, in Montgomery County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Whites Ferry Road (Maryland Route 107) and River Road. Click for map. Marker is on the C&O Canal towpath at Mile 35.5, beneath the old bridge. Marker is in this post office area: Dickerson MD 20842, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Chesapeake & Ohio Canal (within shouting distance of this marker); Gettysburg Campaign (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named White’s Ferry (about 300 feet away); 1862 Antietam Campaign (about 300 feet away); Sharpsburg (Antietam) Campaign (approx. 1.3 miles away in Virginia); Ball’s Bluff Overlook (approx. 1.6 miles away in Virginia); Union Artillery (approx. 1.6 miles away in Virginia); Jenifer’s Cavalry (approx. 1.6 miles away in Virginia). Click for a list of all markers in Dickerson.
Regarding White’s Ferry. Fare for automobiles is $4 one way or $6 round trip. Pedestrians and bicyclists 50¢ each.
Also see . . .
White's Ferry Terminal, Maryland image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, November 4, 2006
3. White's Ferry Terminal, Maryland
Cars line up for the ferry to Virginia. White's Ferry is privately owned and operated. Photographer is standing on White's Ferry Road, on the culvert over the C&O Canal. The old bridge over the canal is out of frame to the left. The gray building with the red shutters has a convenience store and restaurant on the ground level. Tree-shaded tables in a large picnic grove overlooking the river are available for a small fee.
 Mutinous Ferry Roils the Waters. “Boat Owner Entangled in Licensing Dispute Ignores Coast Guard’s Order to Shut Down. ‘It’ll be a cold day in hell before they collect any money from me.’ ” 2006 Washington Post article by Frederick Kunkle. (Submitted on December 7, 2006.) 
Additional comments.
1. Heading West...
I was 23 years old in 1968, and heading west on my first cross-country motorcycle trip. I was riding a Suzuki T-500 twin, burdened with two army knapsacks for saddlebags and my backpacking gear on a tail rack.

I lived in Washington Grove, MD then, and remember hitting the Jubal A. Early ferry at about 7 AM. It was a cool morning and the water was warmer than the air, making a rising fog coming off the river. The ferry was smaller then, and would only hold about four or five vehicles. I believe there was one other car on the ferry as I headed west into a great adventure. It was well before traveling thre country on a motorcycle was common, and I grew up a lot on the road. One good piece of advice I remember getting: you'll find hospitality most everywhere you go, and I did.

But the magic that began the whole trip started with crossing the Potomac on the Jubal A, and I've never forgotten
The <i>Gen. Jubal A. Early</i> image. Click for full size.
By Tom Fuchs, November 4, 2006
4. The Gen. Jubal A. Early
Potomac River ferry boat en route to Maryland. Notice the cable that guides the ferry. This new ferry can carry up to 24 cars at a time in three rows. Photographer took this picture from the picnic grove.
it. Glad to hear it's still crossing the river.
    — Submitted August 21, 2008, by Tock Frantz of Lancaster, Massachusetts.

Categories. AgricultureWar, US CivilWaterways & Vessels
White's Ferry Signs image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, November 3, 2007
5. White's Ferry Signs
On the Maryland and Virginia sides of the ferry, these signs call notice to the historical aspects of the ferry while re-assuring travelers of safe operation:
Take Notice
This Historic Public Ferry Service
was first authorized by an act of
the general assembly of Maryland
entered January the 19th, 1782 and
continues service for your convenience
and pleasure.

It is the only public ferry operating
on the Potomac River or its tributaries
and is still in private ownership.

The General Jubal A. Early
is regularly inspected and certified
by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Thank you for your patronage.
White's Ferry, Inc.
Ferry Machinery image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, November 3, 2007
6. Ferry Machinery
To the side of the ferry loading ramp is a collection of old machinery used by the ferry.
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland. This page has been viewed 13,538 times since then and 984 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.   3. submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia.   4. submitted on , by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.   5, 6. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. • J. J. Prats was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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