Whites Ferry Closed

An attendant waves to a regular customer as a rush hour crowd exits on the Virginia side of White’s Ferry Road in 2003.

Historic White’s Ferry has ceased its ferry operations between Montgomery County, Maryland, and White’s Ferry Road in Loudoun County.

The ferry operation announced the decision Monday after a recent court ruling in Loudoun County concluded that no public landing exists on the Virginia shoreline at Whites Ferry Road and that the ferry is prohibited from landing in the Virginia location.

Loudoun County government is aware of the reports that White’s Ferry has ceased operations, according to spokesman Glen Barbour.

County government is not part of the lawsuit after the ferry company stated Virginia has declined to establish a public landing.

“While Loudoun County is not party to the legal dispute, the county remains concerned about the outcome from a regional transportation perspective,” Barbour said in a prepared statement. “We recognize that any impact to ferry service may impact our residents and people who work in Loudoun County.”

Rockland Farm LLC, the plaintiff and owner of the 2.3-acre property in Loudoun County, argued in 2004 that the defendant White’s Ferry violated the terms of a 1952 license agreement by removing an existing retaining wall from the property and replacing it with a wall farther from the river, according to court records.

White’s Ferry refused to restore the property, which led to the termination of the agreement, and has continued its operations leading to a second lawsuit in 2009.

The ferry company claimed it was operating lawfully because those areas have been established as public rights of way, court records state.

Historic White’s Ferry is the last of 100 ferries that used to operate on the Potomac River, according to the town of Poolesville’s website. The cars are carried by ferry along a wire cable across the Potomac.

The ferry company has been in operation since 1786, according to Visit Loudoun’s website. Commuters use the ferry daily, where 24 vehicles can be transported at a time.

(34) comments


Sounds to me like the whites ferry owner was ready to retire and simply didn’t want to do it anymore.

I’m envisioning Loudoun county taking possession of the land and finding someone to operate a ferry


Worth reading. Whites Ferry is the problem on this one, not the owners in VA. However, the owners are taking it on the chin from folks on FB


In 1871, Loudoun County condemned a landing at Rockland Farm of 1 perch by 16 perches for a Ferry landing called Conrad’s Ferry. At that time there were many ferries that crossed the Potomac River between Virginia and Maryland such as Edward’s Ferry and Sphinx Ferry. Unfortunately, there are no records that show where the condemnation for Conrad’s ferry occurred. In 1947, Elijah White wanted to reopen Conrad’s Ferry under the name White’s Ferry after a terrible flood which had closed Conrad’s ferry for a long time. They sent a letter to Rockland Farm acknowledging that they had no right to use Rockland’s property for the landing and asked the owners of Rockland Farm, for an agreement. In 1952, Elizabeth Rust Brown and Stanley Noel Brown, owners of Rockland Farm entered into a licensing agreement with White’s Ferry for $5.00 per year for the use of a landing at Rockland Farm so long as the ferry landing was never changed or enlarged under its current configuration. Since that time, White’s Ferry evolved from being a small operation of a few cars per day to a major commuter route.

Sixteen years ago, on July 4th weekend, White’s Ferry (without prior notification or permission from Rockland and without obtaining any government permits) unlawfully enlarged the ferry landing and built structures on Rockland. So doing violated a license agreement between White’s Ferry and Rockland that had been in place for more than half a century. Since then Rockland has been attempting to work out some fair arrangement with the owners of White’s Ferry. In response, all White’s Ferry has done is to delay, delay, delay, all the while making millions of dollars off the use of Rockland. Finally, after being stonewalled time and again by White’s Ferry, Rockland had no choice but to file suit on December 2, 2009. After many attempts to settle the case out of court which delayed the trial by years, the suit was decided in Rockland’s favor on November 23rd, 2020. The court definitively ruled that the owners of White’s Ferry had been and are trespassing and are no longer able to make use of Rockland without Rockland’s permission.

Since that decision over four weeks ago, Rockland Farm has made numerous attempts to reach White’s Ferry in order to negotiate a fair and equitable solution that will keep the ferry running. Rockland has offered to purchase White’s ferry, to be paid rent for its land, and to consider other arrangements that will keep the ferry running. On multiple occasions, White’s Ferry told Rockland Farm that it would get back to Rockland on certain dates, but missed their own deadlines. Multiple attempts to reach White’s Ferry have gone unanswered. All the while White’s Ferry continued, unjustly and now in violation of a court ruling, to make money off of the use of Rockland.

Rockland Farm knows that it is in everyone’s best interest to keep the ferry running and sent White’s Ferry an interim licensing agreement so that the ferry operation could continue without interruption until a deal between the two parties could be negotiated. Rockland Farm received no response from White’s Ferry. Having not gotten a response from White’s Ferry, Rockland Farm wrote to them last Wednesday letting them know that if Rockland did not hear back from them by noon on Monday, it would send a final notice of entry of Order to the court. Instead of engaging with Rockland Farm to negotiate a fair and equitable arrangement to keep the ferry running, the response by White’s Ferry was to close the ferry and walk away from the business.


It seems to me that the operation of White's Ferry has met the conditions for "adverse possession" long before the Brown's took over the operation. What is the issue with the retaining wall since it is on land that is not usable by the "owners" of the property. It's time Maryland won a case about the Potomac since VA has been getting it's way over the centuries including the fact that the wrong branch of the Potomac is used for the state line. The southern branch should be the headwaters. "'KNOW YEE therefore, that Wee...grant and confirme unto the said Cecilius, now Baron of Baltemore, ...all that part of a Peninsula...betweene the Ocean on the East, and the Bay of Chesopeack on the West, and divided fromt he otehr part therof, by a right line drawne from the Promontory or Cape of Land called Watkins Point...unto the maine Ocean on the East, and betweene that bound on the South, unto that part of the Delaware Bay on the North, which lieth under the fortieth degree of Northerly Latitude...passing from the foresaid Bay...in a right line by the degree aforesaid, unto the true meridian of the first fountaine of the River of Pattowmeck, and from thence trending toward the south unto the farther bank of the aforesaid river, and following the West and South side therof...'(Maryland Charter)" Maryland has had bad attorney's over the years to keep losing to Virginia. Maryland should extend as far south and west as Hightown, Virginia. Maryland also lost its dispute with the Penns (Pennsylvania) where the boundaries established by the charters overlapped.

It's time for MD to finally win an argument.

BTW apparently Rockland's attempt to resolve the dispute is to charge $200,000 a year for landing rights or to buy the Ferry. Rockland Farms, LLC does not appear to be as magnanimous as portrayed in your comment.


From your comments I have to assume you own little real property. Your knowledge of such seems very thin.

The property was condemned long ago, but we don’t know where exactly. Then it was not used for many years which in and of itself would of nullified the condemnation. Then a new ferry operator entered into a licensing agreement with the property owners farther nullifying any rights to use such property through adverse possession.

The fact that the property is unusable by the owners is irrelevant and actually a ridiculous argument. Obviously the property and wall you speak is very valuable. The 2 parties would Likely not of been arguing about the use of said property if it had little to no value or use.

So what if the current property owner wants 200000 dollars a year to use his property. It is his property and that is his right. I have no idea the revenue of the ferry or the value of it as a business. 200000 dollars may very well be a fair rate.

My take on this is that the ferry owners are closing the ferry as a negotiation tactic. Which is well within their rights to do so, but may very likely backfire on them.


If I were you, I wouldn't assume what I do or do not own. Additionally, what may be a ridiculous argument to one may be legitimate to another (look at the Supreme court which is split most of the time and has even overturned some past decisions).

Greg F

If you or I build on someone else's land, they have only so many years for "discovery" of such trespass or that property is transferred due to adverse possession. 2 centuries is a long time to say you weren't on the right land...and even back to 1947 to go back and claim the same. 4 weeks ago, eh? I've waited more than 4 weeks for PRIORITY MAIL to arrive lately. So getting a response in this day with holidays added...well, good luck with that. I see $$$$ in the farm's eyes wanting to cash in on this, which likely would also put the ferry under...or harm them gravely.

What really needs to be done is BUILD ANOTHER DAMMED BRIDGE OR TWO already between 15 and 495. To offset speculation of a boom on building nearby, just make sure it's in the rules to have NO building approved above the capacity it carries now in the path to/from each end...or make HUGE hoops to get through. Get on with it already.


Property is NOT transferred due to adverse possession unless someone files a claim for it. Have you even looked up the definition of adverse possession and the requirements to claim it, or you just spouting off?


time to get to work on a bridge at Seneca


Senaca, Somewhere, Anywhere. A new bridge is needed badly. I'd hate to see one be the death knell of the last ferry over the Potomac, but the demographics pretty much call for one. If not now, then in the not too distant future.

Greg F

How long is it that they had time to say something like discovering adverse possession? Way too long. In MD if someone is over your line 25 years or more, you lose that case. 200 years is plenty to put that land into the public domain and the state needs to step in to preserve a historic monument to the public. F the owners.


"F the owners," Doctor Fed Up Greggy? I'm afraid the laws simply don't work like your simple brain would like to think they do. In Maryland, one can file for adverse possession after 20 years, not 25 as you claim. But there are several other requirements in order to do so, and I don't see all of them met here. Particularly evidenced by the fact that the ferry company is not claiming ownership of the landing site on the Virginia side, merely the use of it. And even if the state were to get involved, which I highly doubt would happen, the Maryland/Virginia state line is the waterline's edge on the Virginia side of the river. So you think MD will tell VA that we're going to take a little chunk of their state for a MD ferry operation? Yeah, maybe in your dreams.


C.D., why not? VA is taking Maryland water and won a case to put a drinking water inlet in the middle of the Potomac when it clearly doesn't own the water of the Potomac.




MD1756, are you familiar with Riparian Rights? If not, my suggestion would be to do a little research on the subject. With regards to your argument I believe they would apply. It has been a while since I had them in school, though.


C.D. my point was that clearly the courts have made decisions based on "the good of the people" before with regard to the Potomac especially since VA was allowed to put a water intake in Maryland's territory. Generally when a river is a boundary between two entities the boundary line is in the middle and therefore both have claims. That is not the case for the Potomac (and again MD got cheated when the north branch was used as the headwaters instead of the true headwaters which is the southern branch), Maryland basically owns the river to the land on VA's side.


MD1756, I wouldn't say that Maryland "basically" owns the river to the land on Virginia's side of it, we own it flat out and that was the intent of my 10:15 comment.


By the way, MD1756, did you look into riparian rights as I suggested?


Since they were using the site in Virginia with the permission of the owner, their possession was not "adverse".


Stjohn42 wow. You get it unlike everyone else


my my, greg; a little more hostile than usual today? Take a deep breath...





Greg F

VA landowners are a wholes to kill this ferry. Make a deal and get on with it. Sounds like a pigheaded bunch.


The VA land owners claim to have made numerous offers to the operators with no response from them. I won;t comment on whether that offer was high or low, but if the operators wanted to make a deal that was their chance. But it would seem they would rather pack up and leave.


Been in operation since 1786 and now closed indefinitely, what a shame. I remember crossing on it coming back from the centennial reenactment of First Manassas back in '61.


Sarcasm Alert, CD. I'm surprised the BLM movement didn't protest the ferry during their "Summer of Love" of "mostly peaceful" protests. After all, it's a ferry for Whites and the ferry boat itself was named for a Confederate general, Jubal Early.



Good points, bosco. Fortunately the blm'ers don't have the intelligence to put 2 and 2 together. [lol]


Yeah. Remember when the mostly peaceful BLMers pulled down the statue of Hans Christian Heg in Madison, WI? What a bunch of clowns showing their ignorance.



I agree. And it was continuous acts of stupidity like that which has caused them to lose most of the support they had six months ago. A Lost Cause, so to say.

Speaking of ignorant: the BLM movement is about unjust treatment of police today not where Jubal Early crossed the Potomac and invaded Maryland in 1864.


aw, the blm "movement" is supposedly about "unjust treatment" of black criminals who end up dying while they're jacked up on drugs and are resisting arrest when getting busted for committing yet another crime. And it's because of the violence they condoned the last 10 months in their "mostly peaceful demonstrations" that they've lost the vast majority of the support they once had.


If, AWT, the BLM movement is about unjust treatment of police today not where Jubal Early crossed the Potomac and invaded Maryland in 1864.....why are they so intent on tearing down statues? Explain that.


Again, your ignorance is showing: where’s the statue at Whites Ferry and what does that have to do with the ferry being shut down? You and CD are haunted, obsessed! You see BLM everywhere (black people 🙇🏾.) You guys need to chill or one might think you guys are racist.


I AM NOT A RACIST!!! How about you, bosco? ([lol][lol][lol])

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