Whistler's Arches, Continued
A pictoral hiking tour of Whistler's Train Bridge Arches in Chester, Massachusetts

Terrain: Easy | Overall hike: Easy | Scenic View: Yes | Roadside parking: Yes | Loop trail: No | Historical Site | Mileage: ~5 miles in/out

So who was this Whistler guy, anyway? Here's your history lesson for the day, boys and girls.

From http://keystonearches.org/history/ :

The fascinating history behind the building of the Keystone Arches doesn't get any better than this! The Western Railroad was the longest (150 miles) the steepest (1458 ft.) and the first (mountain climbing) railroad in the world. It included the longest bridge in the world, over the CT River, at Springfield, MA. Much of this was brought about by one of the most talented, yet un-remarked individuals in the annals of Civil Engineering; Maj. George Washington Whistler, father of famed painter, James Abbott McNeil Whistler.

Whistler was a West Point graduate from the class of 1819. After his first wife, Mary Smith, died very young, Whistler married Anna Matilda.  Their son, the noted painter James McNeill Whistler, attended West Point without graduating.

Whistler spent his active army career as a topographical engineer. During the 1820s, when West Point graduates were virtually America's only trained engineers, the government began lending their services to private companies. Whistler went to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Other railroad and related engineering projects followed, before and after he resigned his commission in 1833. Whistler went to Russia in 1842 to supervise construction of the Moscow-St. Petersburg railroad, also known as The Trans-Siberian Railroad. 

Whistler employed Alex Bernie, a Scottish engineer to design and build the bridges. While Whistler has the most name recognition, he in fact, shared the title of Chief Engineer with Whistler's uncle, William Gibbs McNeil. The two had collaborated on the Baltimore & Ohio R.R. earlier. Truth be known, McNeil was appointed Chief Engineer on 3/16/1836, with William Swift as Resident Engineer. On 5/8 of that year Whistler was brought on board to produce drawings for 6 10-ton and 4 14-ton locomotives and some passenger cars to go with them.

It was not until three years later, 5/19/39 upon the resignation of William Swift, that Whistler was appointed a Chief Engineer, in fact sharing that title from that point on with his brother in law, Mr. McNeil. This was the most difficult portion of the project, however, as rails reached Springfield on 10/1/39, commencing the crossing of the CT River and the torturous crossing of the Berkshire Range.