Chesapeake and Ohio Canal – White’s Ferry

I have my very own personal travel agent in my husband. Because he loves history, especially the personal narratives of the characters, he often researches places for us to visit.

The conversation goes something like this.

“I have a surprise for you – a new place to visit.”

I smile, and ask, “Can I bring my camera?”

“Of course,” he replies.

With maps in hand and the GPS active, we are off for adventure. No interstate highways for us. We head up route 17 North toward Warrenton and then on to Leesburg.

My husband has the enthusiasm of a young child about lots of things - it’s one of the things I love most about him. Today he is excited because we are driving our van onto the historic White’s Ferry. In operation since 1786, White’s Ferry is the last working ferry on the Potomac River. The ferry holds 24 vehicles and the trip from Virginia to Maryland takes 3 ½ minutes.

He also stops to read all historical markers and signs. Here’s my little history lesson.

Early settlers recognized these relatively still waters would provide an ideal location for a ferry. 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.
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, DC and Maryland 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 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.