The Five: The Most Likely Locomotives to Have Been Musically Inspirational to Those Who Created Boogie Woogie

by John Tennison, MD                Copyright August 12, 2012

    In the 1871 Texas Almanac, the Southern Pacific Railroad (of Texas) was described as possessing "five fine locomotives."  In 1872 the Southern Pacific (of Texas) was absorbed into the newly-formed Texas & Pacific Railroad.  Prior to 1872, the "five fine locomotives" were already operational by the Southern Pacific (of Texas) on the railroad line containing the towns of Longview, TX; Hallsville, TX; Marshall, TX; Scottsville, TX;  Jonesville, LA; Waskom, TX; Greenwood, LA; and Shreveport, LA.  Although oral histories indicate that Boogie Woogie was first played in the early 1870s,  these five locomotives were already exerting their sonic influence on the minds of Arklatex inhabitants prior to 1870.

    The "five fine locomotives" were simultaneously transferred to the Texas and Pacific by the Southern Pacific (of Texas) in 1872, thus becoming the very first locomotives to assume membership in the locomotive roster of the Texas and Pacific.

The Five

1.    The "B. M. Johnson" (AKA "Ben Johnson") -- built by Rogers in 1859. (Before being acquired by the Southern Pacific of Texas from the Vicksburg, Shreveport and Texas in 1864, the B. M. Johnson had arrived in Shreveport in April of 1860 and had made short runs prior to Civil War.  The B. M. Johnson probably did not arrive in Marshall until July 29, 1866, when public trains began running on the tracks between Shreveport and Marshall.  Among the Five, the B. M. Johnson was probably the oldest locomotive.  However, the first locomotive ("The Louisiana") of the Southern Pacific of Texas had arrived in July of 1857, and the Southern Pacific was running locomotives by no later than 1858.  None of these earlier Southern Pacific locomotives had survived  by 1872, at which time, the only surviving locomotives available to be transferred to the Texas and Pacific were the "five fine locomotives" of which this list is composed.)

2.  The "W. T. Scott" (prior to 1871, was named "Jay Bird") -- builder and building date unknown.  This locomotive appears likely to have been the one that was also known as the "Bull of the Woods."  "Bull of the Woods" is a term for a logging-camp boss or foreman.

3.  The "Marshall"  -- built by Rogers in 1867.

4.  The "W. A. Hauser" -- built by Rogers in 1869.

5.  The "Thomas Coleman" -- builder and building date unknown.

    In future updates to this article, I will add substantially more information about the "five fine locomotives."  If anyone has any information on the builder or building dates for the "W. T. Scott" (originally named "Jay Bird" prior to 1871) or the "Thomas Coleman," I would be most appreciative of hearing from them at or by phone at 210-884-0990.