Seattle to Ellensburg in 1929: The Motorcycle Run to Save a Life
In Commemoration of Clifford Amsbury and Frank Walter Sagar
Tom Samuelsen and Jack Makey in the Great Serum Ride. Media sourced from the Yakima Herald.
The Vintage Motorcycle Enthusiasts (VME) and members of the Pacific Northwest Museum of Motorcycling (PNMM) are reenacting a motorcycle run from 1929, completed in commemoration of a brave soul that made a jaw-dropping trip to save a life.
The story in question starts with two men; a motorcycle messenger named Clifford Amsbury, and a gold miner named Frank Walter Sagar.
According to a report from the Yakima Herald, Sagar had just a crushed leg in a mining accident in Liberty, and was suffering from blood poisoning. Amsbury – a 24-year-old motorcycle courier who worked at Rubenstein’s Pharmacy – departed from Seattle in the middle of November and ‘rode at break-neck speed with a serum needed to save Sager’s life.’
This was 1929, so there weren’t any Kawi H2R’s blasting about – nor, apparently, was there even a proper road accessible to Amsbury.
The story details Amsbury risking his life by riding over Snoqualmie Pass during a violent November storm and traveling up to 70 mph to reach Sagar, with the successful, 100+ mile trip completed in a staggering 2 hours and 45 minutes, thanks to the ride being deputized for maximum efficacy.
“The serum he carried extended Sagar’s life ten days – but the miner, whose leg was eventually amputated, left this world at 7 a.m. on Nov. 20, 1929,” details the report.
With a headstone now at Dry Creek (provided in November of 2019 to Sagar’s final resting place), the two groups’ next initiative is to make Amsbury’s trip over Snoqualmie Pass and bestow the rider’s grave with a similar headstone, created by Rick Oswald of Cutting Edge Glass Studio in Kirkland.
The trip (and headstone) will also ‘help celebrate the 40th anniversary of the VME and 30th year of the Pacific Northwest Museum of Motorcycling.’
“We’ll make the same ride he did in 1929, take some pictures at Holy Cross to commemorate the day,” enthuses rider Tom Samuelsen.