Ferry Hill Plantation
The river crossing at Packhorse Ford, located about a mile downstream from Shepherdstown, could not meet the needs of a growing population. Thomas Van Swearingen began operating a ferry in 1765. This location provided easy access to towns on both sides of the river including Charles Town and Harpers Ferry, VA and Hagerstown, Frederick and Baltimore, MD. In 1775 Van Swearingen had constructed a "Ferry Inn" at the landing on the Maryland side of the river. The community that grew as a result of the ferry became known as Bridgeport.
In 1833 Blackford sold 41 acres, 3 rods, 1 perch (5 1/2 yards) to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company. John Blackford continued to operate the ferry, however, now the canal would also be utilized to transport goods.
As transportation needs grew the ferry was proving inadequate. Franklin Blackford sold the ferry and surrounding property to the Virginia and Maryland Bridge Company and by 1850 a toll bridge was constructed.
The property passed on to Nannie Cowen, a daughter of John and Helena, who with her husband ran a pig farm from 1914 through 1928. Times were hard but the Beckenbaughs continued to struggle on. They opened a restaurant in 1948. Even after they sold the property it remained a restaurant until 1974
The link with John Blackford was severed in 1951 when the house was sold to Frederick Morrison. It provided a perfect location for a restaurant. Many students from Shepherd College recall enjoying an evening of dining and dancing at Ferry Hill. It was during this period that extensive changes were made to the house. The imposing columns facing the river were added. The wall separating the kitchen from the dining room, and the servant's staircase were removed. An addition was added to the back of the main house and many of the out buildings were torn down.
Historic Ferry Hill Place still stands in an idyllic location proudly overlooking the Potomac River, waiting for the next stage of its life to begin.
Did You Know?
A mule is a hybrid animal, a mix of a female horse (a mare) and a male donkey (a jack). Remember, "M" for mom, "M" for mare and "D" for dad, "D" for donkey. Switching the parents will produce a hinny. The mule is the superior work animal, preferred by canal boat captains on the C&O Canal.