George Washington Whistler

Is your surname Whistler?

Research the Whistler family

George Washington Whistler's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


George Washington Whistler

Birthdate: (48)
Birthplace: Fort Wayne, IN, USA
Death: April 7, 1849 (48)
город Санкт-Петербург, Россия
Immediate Family:

Son of Captain John Whistler and Anna Whistler
Husband of Mary Roberdeau Whistler and Anna Mathilda Whistler
Father of Catherine Whistler; George William William Whistler; James Abbott McNeill Whistler; William McNeill Whistler and N.N. Whistler
Brother of Willam Whistler; Catherine Whistler Hamilton; Edward Whistler; Hannah Whistler; Sarah Whistler and 4 others
Half brother of John Whistler

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About George Washington Whistler

George W. Whistler (Fort Wayne, Indiana, May 19, 1800 – April 7, 1849 in Saint Petersburg, Russia) was a prominent American railroad engineer in the first half of the 19th century.

George was born at the military outpost of Fort Wayne which his father, John Whistler, had helped build. His mother was Anna Bishop, daughter of Sir Edward Bishop of Great Britain.

He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York in 1819 and served as a Civil Engineer in the United States Army Corps of Engineers and retired as a Major in 1833. In 1834 he became Chief Engineer at the Proprietors of Locks and Canals in the new city of Lowell, Massachusetts. During his time in Lowell, he was responsible for early American locomotive designs, and his sons, James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834–1903) and William McNeill Whistler (1836–1900) were born. He left Lowell in 1837 and was followed by his apprentice, James B Francis. He took up a position with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, which sent him to England to learn more about railroad technology. He was involved in the construction of several U.S. railroads, including the Baltimore and Susquehanna, Stonington, and Western (Massachusetts) railroads. In 1835, he worked with Patrick Tracy Jackson to begin the Boston & Lowell Railroad. The same year, along with William Gibbs McNeill, he designed the Boston & Providence Railroad which included the famous Canton Viaduct which has been in continuous service for 174 years.

Working in Russia

In 1842 Whistler was employed by Engineer Melnikov as a Consultant on the building of Russia's first major railroad, the Moscow-Saint Petersburg Railway. Whistler is said to have designed two bridges on this railway similar to the Canton Viaduct but this has never been confirmed. A scale model bridge of similar design to the Canton Viaduct is on display at the Oktyabrsky Railroad Museum in St. Petersburg. For his efforts he was awarded the Order of St. Anna from Tsar Nicholas I . While working on this project, he contracted cholera and died in St. Petersburg two years before the line was completed. He is credited with selecting the five-foot rail gauge still used in Russia and neighboring countries.

Whistler's Father

Whistler's first wife, Mary R. Swift, died in 1827, after they had had three children, a girl and two boys. He later married Anna Matilda McNeill, with whom he had five sons. Whistler's Mother, a portrait of Anna, by their first son, James McNeill Whistler, is among the most famous paintings in American art.

Stone arch railroad bridges built by George Washington Whistler in 1841 are still in freight and passenger service on the CSX mainline in western Massachusetts.

He was the first Civil Engineer in America to use contour lines to show elevation and relief on maps.

Prominent railroad engineer, on Wikipedia

view all

George Washington Whistler's Timeline

May 19, 1800
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
January 19, 1807
Age 6
Detroit, Wayne, Michigan, United States
Age 21
New London, Connecticut
July 10, 1834
Age 34
Lowell, MA, USA
July 22, 1836
Age 36
Lowell, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States
April 7, 1849
Age 48
город Санкт-Петербург, Россия