The Kuhn family planned to put the historic White's Ferry between Leesburg and Poolesville, Maryland back in the water this month after purchasing the operation in February, but they are facing some procedural delays.
Chuck Kuhn, founder and CEO of JK Moving Services, and his wife Stacy Kuhn, bought the ferry in February after it had been shut down in December in a land dispute.
The owners of the land where the ferry docked in Virginia, known as Rockland, had complained that White’s Ferry was unlawfully occupying its land. White’s Ferry argued for its right to use the landing due to having customers and business operations on that side of the river for over two centuries.
“We stand ready and willing to reopen. The ferry has ramifications for our local economy and the livelihoods of many people, from technology workers to retail employees to farm workers," the Kuhns family said in a news release.
But to restart, the ferry must gain use rights in Virginia. The delay may take up to 10 months, the Kuhn family said.
In November, a Virginia judge found that the ferry operators had been trespassing on the Virginia land since a licensing agreement with Rockland ended in 2004. The judge considered a number of arguments about the right to public use of the land in Virginia, going back to a case in 1871."
“We will be seeking more help from the county and state to ensure this vital route serves our community and people,” Chuck Kuhn said in the news release.
Established in 1786, the ferry remains a significant transportation route between Maryland and Virginia, carrying nearly 800 daily users when operational, Kuhn said.
"White’s Ferry represents a piece of the region’s past as an early commerce route that built and sustained local economies and remains so today," the release said. "As more businesses invite employees back post-pandemic, the need for the ferry to reopen will multiply exponentially as an alternative to heavily traveled Route 15."
The Kuhns are planning a number of upgrades to the ferry over the next few years, bringing more operational and environmental efficiencies to improve services and preserve a piece of history.
The Kuhn family has a history of protecting local landmarks, including purchasing and placing into easement thousands of acres, as well as the historic Middleburg Training Center, which was placed into conservation easement and is now fully renovated.
JK Moving is the largest independently owned and operated moving company in North America, employing nearly 1,100 people.