Whistler, George

Whistler, George (Washington)

(1800–49) soldier, engineer; born in Fort Wayne, Ind. At the United States Military Academy at age 14, he distinguished himself as a draftsman. After graduating he assisted in various topographical projects and helped in the location of several railroads, including the Baltimore & Ohio. He resigned from the army to become the engineer to the Proprietors of Locks and Canals at Lowell, Mass. (1833–37). From 1840–42, as chief engineer of the Western Railroad, he located a difficult section of track through the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts. This feat attracted the attention of Tsar Nicholas I who hired him to be consulting engineer for a railroad between St. Petersburg and Moscow. He began in 1842, received the decoration of the Order of St. Anne in 1847, and died of Asiatic cholera before he could finish the project. His son, George William Whistler, continued his father's work in Russia until his death in 1869. His other son, James A. M. Whistler returned to the U.S.A. and went on to become the famed painter.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.