Salmon, Ruth Scantlin Roach | University of North Texas Special Collections
Ruth Scantlin grew up in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, where she started riding her uncle's Shetland Ponies at about the age of three. She taught herself to do trick horse riding during her childhood, for fun. After completing the eighth grade, Ruth, who was a scant 5'2" tall, left home and travelled to Oklahoma to join the Miller's 101 Ranch rodeo in 1914, as a trick rider. Prior to the start of the show season, she married bronc rider, Bryan Roach, and became Ruth Roach. She was known as Ruth Roach throughout her rodeo career.
Ruth and Bryan Roach traveled with the 101 Ranch show on a 1914 European tour, where they performed in France, England, Ireland, and Belgium. During the tour, however, World War I broke out, the show was cancelled, all of the rodeo horses were confiscated by the British for their war effort, and the performers returned to the United States.
Ruth continued to perform in rodeo shows all over the U.S. in such places as New York City, Boston, Pendleton, Cheyenne, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, and St. Louis. She joined the Hagenback-Wallace Circus for a time and began to ride bucking horses in addition to trick riding, making her bronc riding debut at the 1917 Fort Worth rodeo. She performed in Madison Square Garden, in New York City, every season from 1916 to 1934.
Ruth and Bryan Roach took a second trip to Europe with the John "Tex" Austin rodeo in 1924. After this second rodeo tour of Europe was finished, a man named Tommy Kirnan formed a group, including Ruth and Bryan, which continued to perform in London and Paris for several months. They appeared on stage at the London Palladium and gave a command performance for the British royal family. During their stay in London, the group was given special permission to ride on the royal bridle path, sometimes in the company of the King.
By 1936, Ruth and Bryan Roach had divorced and she was working for W. D. Johnson in a rodeo show at the Texas State Fair. During her time performing at the Fair, she met a Texas rancher named Fred (Dick) Salmon, who owned 2,000 acres near Nocona, in Montague County. After a two-year courtship, Ruth married Dick and became a rancher's wife, a role she enjoyed for the rest of her life. She died in 1986, at the age of ninety.
Ruth Scantlin Roach Salmon is an inductee in the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame (1989) and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame (1989). She is the winner of several titles, including World's Champion All Around Cowgirl, World's Champion Trick Rider, and World's Champion Girl Bronc Rider. In addition to these titles, she was also acclaimed as one of the world's most beautiful cowgirls and her pictures were featured on calendars and rodeo placards all over the country.