NEW Overnight parking system
Before parking a vehicle overnight in any Canal Parking area, visitors must register their vehicle through the new online registration system. Print your reciept and place on your dashboard. If unable to print, please visit the nearest visitor center. More »
Water Pump Handles Temporarily Removed
Water pump handles at Bald Eagle Island and Huckleberry Hill Hiker Biker Campsites have been removed due to bad water samples. Handles will be reinstalled when good water samples are received.
Boat Tours at Great Falls
Due to low water levels in the Great Falls area, call the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center (301-767-3714) in advance of your trip to confirm the mule-drawn boat tour schedule.
Parking Lot Closure
CSX is now beginning a phase of their bridge project that requires the closure of the Lock 74 parking lot for approximatly 18 months. Access to visitor parking near Lock 75 is now re-opened with a gravel parking lot at the site.
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 but then had to sell the property in 1948. Even after the sale 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?
Most freight boats on the C&O Canal were approximately 95 feet long and 14.5 feet wide while most locks were 100 feet long and 15 feet wide. This left boat captains little margin for error as they steered their boats into the locks, trying to avoid the $5.00 fine for damaging lock masonry.