ARDEN FERRY — By Andrew Huppert
In the 1960s, many residents continued to wonder about the old rumors surrounding the existence of a ferry or road that existed between Arden On The Severn and Severna Park. A number of residents remembered seeing the Simon J. Martenet maps of Anne Arundel County that had been commissioned in the 1860s and his maps showed such a passageway: Could it actually be true? Through research, digging, and a little haggling, we discovered a reference to it in the NewsBuoy that was backed up by information in Maryland's State Archives!
George Andrew Jackson Stinchcomb, circa 1927, on the Ferry at Pullen Drive, Arden on the Severn River. Photo courtesy of Don Yeskey photo collection.
The County's Ferry
As a county project his ferry boat was short lived (although the county did install a gasoline powered ferry boat to replace the hand-powered barge). The propulsion for the original boat was quite crude, although effective. The full-time ferryman, assisted by whomever was his passenger of the moment, used a club-like piece of wood with a notch on one end to grip a rope which was stretched across the river. (While the ferry was idle, the rope was underwater.) Both men then gripped the "club" while at the front of the boat and walked to the rear of the boat. This treadmill-like procedure was repeated until the boat (barge) reached the opposite shore. There it would usually stay until it was again needed.
Its trips usually numbered only about four or five a day. While the ferry was not in use it was far from deserted. As one would imagine, it was a constant attraction to the children in the neighborhood who swarmed to it in droves and often helped the ferryman and passengers to propel it. While it was tied up it served as an excellent platform for crabbing and fishing, not only for the children, but for vacationing adults as well.
Mr. Keidel's Ferry
Apparently, a ferry did once exist and it was moored in what is now Arden On The Severn. It was privately owned—at least for most of its existence — and was powered by whomever happened to be aboard at the time. The construction of the Arden ferryboat was an undertaking of Mr. Henry Keidel who was one of the early residents of this area long before it came to be a town.
Mr. Keidel, who owned a large wholesale distribution company in Baltimore at the turn of the century, bought a large farm/country estate in what was then "the south bank of the Severn" and found it quite inconvenient to have to drive through Glen Burnie and around the head of the river in coming home at night. To remedy the situation Mr. Keidel bought several hundred feet of stout rope, had a wooden barge constructed and went into the ferry business. Actually Mr. Keidel's ferry was more of a liability than a business. He personally paid a man to be the full-time ferryman and also assumed the costs of all maintenance for his ferry line. After several years of operating this line, Mr. Keidel turned it over to the county.
From Ferry To Fireworks Barge
Mr. Keidel, a patriotic man, put his barge to one other use. Every Fourth of July it was towed to midstream from where a gigantic fireworks display was put on for the river residents. Although not many Severn River residents took advantage of Mr. Keidel's ferry enterprise, long-time residents of the river still may remember his barge and fireworks.