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Old May 28, 2011, 12:44 PM   #1
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Default Early light on the General Early

Like most major cities in North America (for obvious reasons), Washington DC is located on a river – in this case the Potomac, which separates the Maryland suburbs from the Virginia ones. The interesting thing is that from the west side of the Beltway around the metro area, the next bridge across the Potomac is 43 miles upriver. This is because the Virginia suburbs are undergoing suburban sprawl and the Maryland area along the Potomac is an “Agricultural Preserve” which means that the very (VERY) wealthy horse farm owners don’t want the sprawl in Maryland.

One reason this works OK is that there is a ferry across the Potomac in a good location in the area I’m describing. The river is very wide and not very deep here at White’s Ferry (8 – 10 feet deep) so the current is slower and thus it was recognized as good ferry location a long time ago.



A ferry first started there in 1817 but became a viable commercial operation around 1830 (history is a bit fuzzy here). There has been an operating ferry here since that time, only interrupted by the Civil War, WWI, and WWII. Now it’s a rather large one that is used by commuters every day. (Did you notice this in the photo above?)



It is powered by a diesel engine in a boat tied to the side, and rides along a steel cable across the river (the first steel cable was installed in the late 1880’s, and the first engine used to power it was a Model T Ford around 1920).



See the name of the ferry boat? General Jubal Early was the Confederate general who took his army up the Shenandoah valley, across the Potomac, and down to attack Washington, DC. He was narrowly prevented from success there and retreated back to Virginia, supposedly crossing the Potomac here at White’s Ferry. The owners of the Ferry claim to be using that name for the Ferry for historical reasons, but many of us believe they really are using it for what it symbolizes historically, if you catch my drift.

The current ferry is reasonably new. What do you do with the previous one? Well you store your equipment on it and mount it on rollers to two tall poles so it can float up and down.



Why do you do this? Because the Potomac at flood stage can get pretty high (this building is opposite the old ferry above):



The C&O canal, a project that was started by George Washington, came through White’s Ferry not long after the Ferry had been operating. So folks needed a way to cross the canal, to get back and forth to the ferry.



Ted

Edit: And yes the lighting continues to suck here...

Last edited by tkurkowski; May 29, 2011 at 7:13 AM.
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Old May 31, 2011, 9:04 PM   #2
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Interesting shots and history commentary. Well chosen scenes to tell a lot of information in only a few pictures. Well done.

(The building with the flood levels really bring home how bad the floods can be. And what a simple solution to keep the old ferry and equipment from flood damage. )
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Old May 31, 2011, 10:57 PM   #3
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Good story. Go, Jubal Early!

On the Texas State Fair Grounds, the building called the Texas Hall is manned by a guy who is a great-great grandson of John Bell Hood. I have not had the guts to tell him how much better off the Confederacy might have been had Hood never been given an army command, first at Atlanta, then Frankin and finally Nashville where he finished destroying an entire army.
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Old May 31, 2011, 11:17 PM   #4
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Images are so colorful and lush.
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Old Jun 1, 2011, 6:27 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Steven R View Post
Interesting shots and history commentary. Well chosen scenes to tell a lot of information in only a few pictures. Well done.

(The building with the flood levels really bring home how bad the floods can be. And what a simple solution to keep the old ferry and equipment from flood damage. )
Thanks, Steven. That building, which is part of the operation there (a sandwich shop & beer for the fishermen using the boat ramp next to the ferry) is some 20' above normal river level!

Ted
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Old Jun 1, 2011, 6:32 AM   #6
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Good story. Go, Jubal Early!

On the Texas State Fair Grounds, the building called the Texas Hall is manned by a guy who is a great-great grandson of John Bell Hood. I have not had the guts to tell him how much better off the Confederacy might have been had Hood never been given an army command, first at Atlanta, then Frankin and finally Nashville where he finished destroying an entire army.
I have to read up on Hood - if you grow up in the north, you're taught that all the southern generals were excellent and the north didn't get a good one until Ulysses Grant got a command. Although maybe that was taught mostly just in Illinois where Grant was from...

As I understand it, if your Governor has his way Hood will be vindicated when Texas secedes.

Ted
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Old Jun 1, 2011, 6:33 AM   #7
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Images are so colorful and lush.
Thanks, Peru
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Old Jun 1, 2011, 9:36 AM   #8
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Nice shots, interesting history. The owner of the building has to figure every 10 years or so his place is under water. That could get very expensive unless the inside is pretty much empty and open.
Makes you wonder how the ferry rides it out during a flood with raging waters.
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Old Jun 1, 2011, 9:59 AM   #9
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Nice shots, interesting history. The owner of the building has to figure every 10 years or so his place is under water. That could get very expensive unless the inside is pretty much empty and open.
Makes you wonder how the ferry rides it out during a flood with raging waters.
Eric
The inside is empty right now - I suspect they empty it before the spring rain every year, but that must be a PITA with coolers and restaurant kitchen appliances.

Good question about the ferry - unless it has wheels on it I can't see it being dragged up the road - it's got to be very heavy. When I was there the only person to ask questions of, was the ferry pilot so I couldn't talk to him for very long.

Ted
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Old Jun 1, 2011, 10:50 AM   #10
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I have to read up on Hood - if you grow up in the north, you're taught that all the southern generals were excellent and the north didn't get a good one until Ulysses Grant got a command. Although maybe that was taught mostly just in Illinois where Grant was from...

As I understand it, if your Governor has his way Hood will be vindicated when Texas secedes.

Ted
Urban legend about all those Confederate Generals! It was truly unfortunate that Hood did not die from yellow fever until well after 1864.

The Governor does carry a gun, so I do not tend to disagree with him if I think he might be around to hear me.
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