The Corner

White’s Ferry

It has been a goal of mine for some years to cross the Potomac River at White’s Ferry — the river’s last remaining ferry crossing. I finally had a chance yesterday, when my daughter had a soccer game in Maryland. The ferry wasn’t a novelty; it was actually the quickest and most convenient way to travel between Virginia and Maryland, given where we had to go.

And it felt good to support this family-owned throwback enterprise, which has gotten into scraps with federal government. Three years ago, the Coast Guard tried to shut down White’s Ferry for having an unlicensed operater on the ferry. You know, because the Coast Guard doesn’t have more pressing things to do. The ferry’s 86-year-old owner, Edwin Brown, was plucky and defiant:

“It’ll be a cold day in hell before they collect any money from me,” Brown, 86, said yesterday, adding that he had made his fortune defending property owners in eminent-domain disputes with the authorities. “I have never had any fear of the government.”

Brown also was shocked that Coast Guard investigators in Baltimore were considering hefty penalties, saying he thought he had worked out a settlement with officers who had visited the ferry’s offices in Dickerson.

“You can’t trust the government,” he said.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.