The Ruth Roach Salmon Papers contain photographs and printed materials highlighting her career as a rodeo cowgirl.
Scope and Contents of the Materials
The papers of Ruth Scantlin Roach Salmon detail Salmon's life as a rodeo cowgirl, and highlight her twenty-four year career as a trick rider and a bronco buster during the 1920s and 1930s. Material consists of 343 black and white photographs taken during Salmon's rodeo days which focus on the various venues her performances took place in, her many friends who were also rodeo performers, and action shots snapped during her rodeo performances; as well as nine folders of written materials. The photographs record the various venues in which she performed and her many friends in rodeo. Some are action shots taken by a professional photographer during rodeo performances. A select number of un-copyrighted black and white photographs from this collection are available for viewing on the Portal to Texas History.
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.
This collection is not restricted.
Reproduction and publication of materials in this collection are subject to the policies of the UNT Special Collections department. Copyright restrictions may apply.
Physical Access Note:
This collection is stored at the Willis Library and is available for same day paging.
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Ruth Roach Salmon Collection, University of North Texas Special Collections
Finding Aid Revision History:
Rachel Motes updated this record on June 28, 2017 to include the folder level listing for Box 1989.
Digital surrogates of items from this collection are available in the Portal to Texas History. The UNT Special Collections department houses an oral history with Ruth Roach, OH 87, in their holdings. Please contact the UNT Special Collections department for further information.