- Historic Sites
Remme’s Great Ride
December 1972 | Volume 24, Issue 1
The cold, weary traveller reached Scott Valley in six hours, where he slept till noon; and Yreka in seventy hours from Knight’s Landing. He reeled into a barroom and drank off a big glass of brandy as he was called to his frugal meal, and then a fresh horse was brought him. Away he sped, leaving the lofty dome of the peerless Shasta behind him, with its hoary head veiled in the tempest of years untold. Four hours later he was slowly ascending a long eminence about eleven miles north of where he had crossed the Klamath River. A huge cairn of stones was heaped about a small oak tree whose boughs had been lopped away by an axe, and as much of it as projected above the stones bore a curious mark placed there by United States surveyors. It was the mark of the boundary line between a state and a territory. He looked at the tree for a brief moment and alighted from his saddle to drink from the swollen waters of Hungry Creek, which roared beside his path.
“Thank God for Oregon,” sighed Remme as he left the tree behind him. His path, however, was fraught with dangers from this time along. The savage Modocs ranged the whole region between the Klamath and Rogue rivers, while another band more deadly and murderous infested the too appropriately named Grave Creek Hills. At the Dardanelles he hired a strong horse from a stout Irish farmer named Kavanaugh and was walking him along near Jump-off-Joe when a ball whizzed past his head and the crack of six Indian rifles on the bluff above the trail told that his journey was no pleasure trip. But he wore a charmed life, and no redskin’s bullet was destined to be billeted on his person.
He sped down the great canyon and over the beautiful plateau where Roseburg now stands. At daylight on Saturday morning he came to the little village of Winchester on the north fork of the Umpqua, where he got a strong sorrel from Levi Knott. He changed horses again at a farmhouse in the Yoncalla Valley and twice more before he reached Eugene on Sunday morning after riding through a torrential storm during the night.
The day was mild and clear when he crossed the Willamette at Peoria, and the lofty peaks of the Cascade Range towered into an unclosed vista of liquid blue. The picture was a lovely one, and yet the weary man said to himself:
“This is the fifth day, and I have slept just ten hours in all that time. I shall not lie down till I reach Portland.”
He rode all night through Linn and Marion counties. About midnight he rode up to a cabin and peeped through the window. A young man sat by the fire with a young girl on his knee. He was telling her the story that is ever new. Remme took his breakfast at the lower end of French Prairie and hired a horse for five dollars to bring him to Oregon City. He reached there at half-past ten o’clock to find that there would be no steamboat for Portland until next day.
Monday noon found Louis at Milwaukie, and the ferryman’s son got him across the swollen Willamette. The ride to town was exceedingly muddy, but by one o’clock he had reached Stewart’s stable and put away his horse. He asked: “Is the steamer in from Frisco?”
“No,” replied the hostler, “but we look for her today.”
“Where is Adams & Co.’s bank?” asked Remme.
The hostler directed him, and he walked around to the bank. Dr. Steinberger was agent and had just returned from lunch.
“Can you cash a certificate of deposit for me on Sacramento—it’s on your own bank?”
“I guess so,” replied the doctor. “We charge half of one per cent exchange for all sums over one thousand dollars and one per cent on all below that.”
“Twelve thousand and a half,” replied Remme. “I’ve bought a band of cattle, and the longer I wait to pay for them, the worse I am off.”
The doctor examined the certificate, which bore the signature of W. B. Rochester, agent of Adams & Co. at the California capital. There could be no doubt of its genuineness. He counted out the money to Remme and was chuckling over his being able to sell twelve thousand dollars’ worth of exchange on San Francisco without shipping a dollar’s worth of dust or coin.
Remme went around to his hotel and deposited the money in the safe. He came back and told the doctor:
“You’d better save yourself.”
“What do you mean?” asked the doctor.
“I mean that your bank has failed, and everything is attached in San Francisco and Sacramento. I have ridden from Sacramento since Tuesday noon and killed a dozen horses, pretty near. You’ll find I’m right when the steamer gets in.”
“Ridiculous! You might as well talk of Page, Bacon & Co. failing.”
“Well, they failed first, and that is what started the run on your bank,” retorted Louis.
“Bah! Now I know you are crazy,” sneered the doctor.