Western Maryland Rail Trail Mini Park

21-29 West Main Street

Hancock, Maryland

The Hancock Town Council moved unanimously to name the Rail-Trail Mini Park after a Civil War veteran and local doctor

at its regularly scheduled meeting, 13 November 2002. The park which was officially opened in June of 1999 links Main Street

to the Rail-Trail. The town sponsored a "name the park" contest and the name of Doctor James Breathed was selected from the

many entries received. Marian Golden, local historian, submitted the name of Dr Breathed a former resident and professional that lived

in Hancock during the 1800's. Breathed, who was born in Berkeley Springs, (Bath, Virginia) on 15 December, 1838, joined the 1st

Virginia Calvary under J.E.B. Stuart after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Breathed not only practiced medicine in Hancock after the Civil War; his family also had a notable influence on the town and

in the region at large. His father, Judge John Breathed, was headmaster of the Saint James School, in Lydia, where his son went to school.

The Breathed family was also involved in the establishment of Saint Thomas Episcopal Church in Hancock, where Dr Breathed is buried

in the graveyard directly being the church building.


Saint Thomas Episcopal Church


Photographs of dedication ceremonies, June 2003





Doctor Breathed was a brother in-law to Robert Bridges, co-owner of the Round Top Cement Mill, the largest employer in Hancock during

the Civil War. And Breathed's first cousin, Dr James Delaplane, was also a physician in Hancock. His office was located on the site where

the Mini-Park stands today.

On February 14, 1870, James Breathed left this world at the young age of 31. He had lived more in 31 years than most men who reach 70. The

body was placed in St Thomas Episcopal Church Cemetery, overlooking Hancock and the peaceful Potomac River.

Information obtained from an article written by Richard E. Clem that appeared in the Maryland Cracker Barrel in January 1990 and a Hancock News

Article dated 20 November 2002.

Park History and Conception: Breathed Park happened as the result of a devastating fire on New Years Eve, 1992, that totaly destroyed several businesses and

apartments which were never re-built. Due to various financial situations both property owners involved decided to sell their properties to the Town of Hancock.

The town secured funding assistance from the State of Maryland to purchase the properties and funds to design and construct a connector path from the Western

Maryland Rail Trail to Main Street Hancock. The park provides easy pedestrian access (handicapped accessible) for hikers and bikers to the main business district

of town and provides protection from the environment during storms with a gazebo and also has park benches to rest from their ride or walk on the rail-trail or C&O

Canal Towpath.

FOR ADDITIONAN INFORMATION ON JAMES BREATHED GO TO: http://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=5932