The most daring, grueling, and impossible horseback ride in American history occurred in 1855, when a cattle trader raced overland nearly 700 miles in winter to beat a steamship sailing from Sacramento to Portland, Oregon. The rider’s life savings in gold were at stake, which he could save if he could reach Portland before the Steamship Columbia arrived, bringing news of a bank failure. But do you know who Louis Remme is?
Louis Remme, rode nonstop from Sacramento to Portland on horseback in 1855, racing against ship-borne news of a bank run that would prevent him from withdrawing his own money.
Racing for the Gold
Louis Remme is a French-Canadian who comes to America for a better life. He strikes it rich, selling cattle to hungry miners during the California gold rush, but then loses everything on Black Friday, February 23rd, 1855. Louis goes from riches to rags in an instant when his life savings vanish after California’s banks fail. Louis has a deposit certificate proving he has money in an account, but no California bank will accept it.
However, because there is no telegraph line connecting Sacramento and Portland, word of the bank panic must travel by steamship. Louis will only be able to reclaim his gold if he can beat the steamship to Portland and present his certificate of deposit to the branch bank there.
As a result, in a race against time, Louis rides as fast as he can for six days, sleeping only ten hours a day, to reach Portland and complete one of history’s most heroic races. He fords swollen rivers, plows through snowdrifts, and narrowly avoids an Indian attack along the way. (Source: The Long Rider’s Guild)
The Refusal to Give Up
Above all, Remme’s Ride is a story about perseverance and one man’s refusal to give up. The humble hero was a Canadian Frenchman by birth. Despite his small stature, he was a wiry specimen of humanity who weighed as many ounces to the pound as any man who had ever seen Oregon or California, even in that heroic age. He’d ridden 665 miles from Knight’s Landing to Portland in 143 hours, through storm and darkness, over Indian trails, and through a trackless wilderness; subtracting ten hours for sleeping leaves 133 for actual running time.
Remme’s ride is one of the early Oregon legends told beside roaring oak fires in Willamette farmhouses on long winter nights when the apple roast on the hearthstones and the cider sparkle in the white china mugs on the kitchen table. It is carried down the mountain torrent of tradition to the vast ocean of history, a history unknown to other peoples, replete with heroism and self-sacrifice.
Louis Remme’s ride had won by a hundred yards and a hundred seconds on the clock. He’d covered an impossible 665 miles in 143 hours, 10 of which were spent sleeping, to earn himself a now-forgotten place in history as the man who completed the most fantastic horseback race in Western history. (Source: The Long Rider’s Guild)
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