2021 | Transportation

UPDATED: New owners of White’s Ferry hope to resume service

Loudoun County couple announced purchase of historic ferry on Friday

File photo

This story was updated at 4:20 p.m. on Feb. 13, 2021, to include comments from Chuck Kuhn and Libby Devlin

White’s Ferry, which shuttles passengers between Montgomery  and Loudoun counties, has been purchased by a Virginia couple.

Chuck Kuhn, the owner of Sterling, Va.-based JK Moving Services, and his wife Stacy, purchased the ferry on Thursday, according to a Friday press release.

Kuhn told Bethesda Beat on Saturday that he purchased White’s Ferry because of its importance the community.

“One, it’s an important part of local history, and it was a shame to see it’s shutting down. Two, it really serves the Loudoun and Western Montgomery County community really well,” he said.

The ferry is in the process of being repaired, which include replacing cables following damage from a storm in December, according to the press release. Kuhn hopes to negotiate a permanent easement with Rockland Farm majority owner Peter Brown, it stated.

It was not immediately clear when the ferry would resume operations. Restoring the ferry service depends on Kuhn and Brown coming to an agreement.

Kuhn said he called Brown and minority owner Libby Devlin on Friday.

“We left it that they would talk with one another and get back to me early next week,” he said.

Devlin, in a statement to Bethesda Beat on Saturday, wrote that Rockland Farm is “optimistic that it can negotiate a reasonable agreement” with the Kuhns.

“As we have stated in the past, Rockland Farm is more than willing to negotiate with any owner of White’s Ferry arrangements whereby Rockland Farm is compensated fairly for the use of its Virginia landing going forward,” she wrote.

Rockland Farm is a historic estate that is often used for weddings and other events. It is not connected to Rocklands Farm Winery in Poolesville.

The press release stated that additional upgrades to the ferry are planned to make it more environmentally friendly.

White’s Ferry has operated since the late 1700s, according to loudounhistory.org. The ferry ceased operations in late December due to a legal dispute between the ferry and Rockland Farm, a historic estate in Virginia.

Rockland Farm had claimed in a lawsuit that White’s Ferry violated a 1952 agreement by replacing a retaining wall in 2004, which they said was on their property. White’s Ferry argued that the wall was considered part of the public right-of-way, and its actions were justified.

A Loudoun County judge ultimately ruled in November that the ferry could not land in Virginia.

Rockland posted on Facebook in December that it allowed White’s Ferry to continue operating after the court decision, in the hope the parties could work out an agreement, but the White’s Ferry owners made the decision to close.

Kuhn said he had thought about buying White’s Ferry last year, but didn’t because he had hoped the ferry’s owners would come to an agreement with the Rockland owners. When that didn’t happen and the ferry shut down, he said he changed his mind.

Kuhn declined to say the amount of the sale, citing a non-disclosure agreement.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com