Visitors to the Wells Fargo History Museum in Minneapolis like to imagine how different things were in the early years of Wells Fargo. One of the easiest places to experience that difference is our replica stagecoach. Visitors are invited to climb inside, feel how it moves and get an idea of what it would have been like to travel in one. Still, they are often amazed by the idea that nine passengers would have fit inside, and that still more would have been seated on top. It’s difficult to imagine the tight quarters which nineteenth-century travelers encountered.
Few people today travel in groups large enough to really encounter the closeness of a full stagecoach interior in our replica. So we have recently added an interactive exhibit called, “Load the Coach” comprised of a small model stagecoach complete with luggage and 18 dolls. People are encouraged to fit all the dolls and luggage on and in the stagecoach. That’s right, when seats inside and on top of the coach were full, 18 people could ride on a Wells Fargo Concord Coach.
As the temperatures have risen this summer, reactions to “Load the Coach” have become stronger. Guests’ thoughts move to the discomfort that modern travel in the heat of summer brings, and marvel at how much more uncomfortable it would be squeezed closely together, and without air conditioning, water bottles, and electronic distractions.
Still, these coaches—despite their snug accommodations—were at the forefront of transportation. While not immune to the difficulties of the journey, nineteenth-century stagecoach passengers enjoyed the luxury and speed the stagecoach brought to their adventures. Now, it’s up to our visitors to see that all the riders and packages find their place on board our “Load the Coach,” and they’ve been doing a marvelous job of it!