White's Ferry owners offer to donate historic ferry to Montgomery County

The owners of White's Ferry have offered to donate the ferry to Montgomery County. 

Chuck and Stacy Kuhn announced their formal donation on Tuesday. 

"We are happy to propose a resolution to Montgomery County. Our goal was always to get the ferry reopened.  It’s a special crossing that serves as a local economic engine and piece of history. Too many businesses and residents have had their livelihoods impacted by its closure," said Chuck Kuhn in a statement. "Despite many good faith efforts to work with the Virginia landowners to make ferry access available, donating the operation became the only solution that made sense to ensure the ferry has a chance to become a functioning part of our lives and local economy."

White's Ferry used to take hundreds of passengers every day across the Potomac River, from Loudoun County to Montgomery County. 

The ferry abruptly shut down in December 2020 over disputes and lawsuits related to the ownership and access to the landing on the Virginia side, which is owned by Rockland Farm. A court ruled that the ferry trespassed on the private Virginia land when it expanded its landing. 

The Kuhns, owners of JK Moving Services, bought the Ferry in February 2021.

Since then, the Kuhns worked with local officials to develop a proposal to get access again to the Virginia ferry landing side, including two offers to purchase the landing site, the second one coming in at $1.25 million. Rockland Farms rejected both offers. 

The donation of White's Ferry to Montgomery County would be contingent on the county working with Loudoun counties to get access to the Virginia side and reopen the ferry. 

"Our donation will be the best way forward. This is not what we had originally envisioned, but we recognize the importance of White’s Ferry to our region. With this donation, we believe that Montgomery County will be able to work with Virginia to get the ferry moving again," said Kuhn. 

The previous owner of White's Ferry, Herb Brown, sold the ferry, the store and the Maryland shoreline to the Kuhn's after Rockland Farm demanded White's Ferry pay 50 cents per car each way. The toll would have meant a 50% reduction in operating income, according to the Kuhns, and would have made the ferry business "unviable." 

"I've always said from the beginning that we want to have a per-vehicle per-car charge so that we can receive a payment for the amount of encroachment on our property," said Libby Devilin, owner of Rockland Farm, to FOX 5 DC in October. 

800 cars used White's Ferry every day, so 50 cents a car would be about $2,800 a week.