One of the most trying times in Wells Fargo Bank’s history was perhaps just after Isaias Hellman took over, when the Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire leveled thousands of San Francisco buildings. In the era before electronic records, paper records kept track of how much money was in your bank account, how much you owed on a loan, and any other financial information your bank might need. Luckily the vault survived with minimal damage, and most records were saved.
However the mid twentieth century introduced a new threat to records preservation, the nuclear bomb. Capable of obliterating everything for miles around, the traditional vault was no longer disaster proof. In 1969 Fidelity Bank of Philadelphia (now part of Wells Fargo) began preparing for such a possibility. They searched for a new storage center that was as protected as possible from nuclear damage. Far from town—but close enough for daily shipments—and protected from radiation. This process was documented in the in-house magazine, the Fidelphian (Fidelity’s version of the Wells Fargo Messenger). A massive former limestone mine run by the National Storage Corporation, now Iron Mountain Corporation was extremely suitable. The facility was located over 200 feet below ground, protected by armed guards and metal gates. While some paper records were kept, most were photographed and stored in a medium called microfilm in a nod to changing times—today most of that information is kept digitally in remote servers. This information wasn’t secret, but published in the employee newspaper as a form of reassurance.
Luckily a nuclear explosion has never occurred, but backup data centers help recover from natural disasters as well. Scroll back through the blog, and you will be treated to posts like this https://blogs.wellsfargo.com/guidedbyhistory/2006/03/running-out-of-money/ about the 1989 earthquake, and others (https://blogs.wellsfargo.com/guidedbyhistory/tag/1906-quake/ ) about the 1906 Earthquake and Fire.
Rest assured that even though we don’t want disasters to happen, Wells Fargo has policies in place to prevent disruption and recover any issue.