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White's Ferry, which started shuttling passengers across the Potomac in 1786, has closed

A ferry makes its way to the Montgomery County side of the Potomac River from Loudoun County in June. White's Ferry announced Monday it will close.

MICHAEL S. WILLIAMSON/THE WASHINGTON POST

By JUSTIN WM. MOYER | The Washington Post | Published: December 28, 2020

A historic ferry that shuttled commuters across the Potomac River between Virginia and Maryland closed Monday after a legal dispute.

White's Ferry, which has operated since about 1786, has carried vehicles from Loudoun County to Maryland and back. The ferry provided a passage vital to commuters in an area with long distances between bridges spanning the river.

In a statement posted Monday to Facebook, White's Ferry said it would cease operations "immediately."

"The Circuit Court of Loudoun County, Virginia has ruled, in the case of Rockland Farm, LLC, et al. v. White's Ferry, Inc., that no public landing exists on the Virginia shoreline at White's Ferry Road and the ferry is prohibited from landing at that location in Virginia," the statement said. "As of the date of this press release Loudoun County, Virginia has declined to establish a public landing at that location."

Herbert Brown, whose family owns the ferry, said he became involved in its operations in January after the death of his father, who ran it for 75 years. Brown said Rockland Farms wanted $200,000 a year for landing rights — an amount the six-employee business could not afford.

"The judge ruled against us and gave them an injunction that we couldn't land on their property," Brown said. "We've been trying to negotiate with them but it's gone nowhere."

A spokesman for Loudoun County said the closure was unrelated to any county government action.

"The information that is published that seems to imply that White's Ferry ceased operations due to some inaction by Loudoun County Government related to a public landing is not accurate," county spokesman Glen Barbour said in an email.

Jeffrey Huber, an attorney for Rockland Farms, said his client did not close the ferry — its owners did.

"We did not close the ferry down," he said. "White's Ferry closed the ferry down."