Options considered for Ferry Hill

April 09, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

SHARPSBURG - When devising plans to turn Ferry Hill into a tourist attraction, C&O Canal National Historic Park officials have at least three options from which to choose, officials said.

Canal Superintendent Doug Faris said the historic house and surrounding land along the Potomac River could be restored to look as it did:

-- during the early years of the C&O Canal operation;

-- when Civil War officer Henry Kyd Douglas was growing up there;

-- around 1924 when the canal ceased operation.

The C&O Canal, which stretches along the Potomac River for 185 miles from Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, Md., operated from 1850 until 1924.

Washington County historian John Frye said he favors giving it a flavor of the 1830s, when Ferry Hill owner John Blackford manufactured cement for the canal and wrote detailed journals about life during that period.


The plantation was at its peak from 1835 to 1840 and would be a one-of-a-kind tourist attraction for this region, Frye said.

The Douglas connection would be of greater national interest and would tie in with nearby Antietam National Battlefield, Frye said.

Douglas was the youngest member of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson's staff. He subsequently became a prominent attorney, living and working in Hagerstown, Frye said.

The property also could be restored to appear as it did during the Civil War when, after the Battle of Antietam, the Union Army occupied the house and briefly used it as a military headquarters, Faris said. The post-Civil War period would be another possibility, he said.

The Ferry Hill plantation received its name from the Swearingen ferry service across the river that operated from about 1750 to 1850, Frye said.

The house was a restaurant from the early 1940s and became park headquarters in April 1980.

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