Load a stagecoach for yourself in Minneapolis!

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.

Full stagecoach in mountains. (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Full stagecoach in mountains. (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

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.

Load the Coach activity. Wells Fargo History Museum-Minneapolis

Load the Coach activity. Wells Fargo History Museum-Minneapolis

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!

Be the first to comment

Stationery not stationary

1855 Wells Fargo cover (Ryan Baum collection)

1855 Wells Fargo cover (Ryan Baum collection)

The stagecoach is Wells Fargo’s icon. It’s our Brand, our corporate identity that represents our commitment to customers, that we’re with you now and over time. Branding has been part of Wells Fargo’s identity since the very beginning: historic documents and stationery show how Wells Fargo branded itself in the past, and how we identified the Company and supported customers.

The stagecoach transported people and bullion, and something equally valuable in frontier days—information, letters and newspapers. Initial envelopes transported by express companies simply bore a hand notation or cancellation of the express company to impart that the cover of the letter (envelope) had been paid and was departing a specific town.

The US Post Office was often unable to keep up with demand for mail coverage in the interior of gold rush California, but the post office steadily improved its Congressional mandate.  A bill in 1852 further increased the Post Office’s ability to collect postage, by authorizing what we today refer to as “postal stationery,” envelopes with postage already printed on them.  The authorization included firm wording,  that any letters “delivered otherwise than by post or mail” shall pay government postage so long as it is “duly sealed…and the date of such letter….to be written or stamped, or otherwise appear on such envelope.” This clearly described any envelope (or “cover”) transported by an express company, including Wells Fargo & Cos Express.

Wells Fargo franked envelope, 1850s (Ryan Baum collection)

Wells Fargo franked envelope, 1850s (Ryan Baum collection)

Wells Fargo and other express companies  normally carried sealed envelopes with their branding, and with date stamps to demonstrate timeliness. Indeed, customers used express companies as the faster option for time-sensitive correspondence.

Wells Fargo began using postal stationery on which they printed their own “frank,” to show the express charges had also been paid.  This gave customers an all-in-one envelope that showed everything paid.  Wells Fargo’s initial franked envelope in the mid-1850’s was a woodblock design on plain envelopes with postage stamps added.  Shortly thereafter Well Fargo began to use postal stationery with a revised frank, whose essential design would be maintained for nearly forty years with only minor modifications.

1889 Wells Fargo cover with two locations (Ryan Baum collection)

1889 Wells Fargo cover with two locations (Ryan Baum collection)

Wells Fargo also had stationery for its own correspondence. Among my favorites is a shaded cover with an image of the building at Market and Montgomery Streets, headquarters from 1856 to 1876. The express and banking businesses had separate buildings over time, and stationery often displayed both. Just as business has not remained stationary over time, stationery also has changed.

Be the first to comment

At the beach

Summer is at its mid-point. (Between the end of school, that is, and back to school.) You’re at the beach just about every day, right? Of course you are.

Mr. Weatherball at the beach (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Mr. Weatherball at the beach (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Wells Fargo’s Corporate Archives has a print ad from the 1950s featuring “Mr. Weatherball,” who personified Northwestern National Bank (Minneapolis and the midwest) and was used in a variety of ads in those years. In this one, Mr. Weatherball joins Maureen on the beach as reward for helping her finance a beach vacation.

Who says financial knowledge isn’t fun?

Be the first to comment

Wealth over time

Wealth is accumulated over time for most people. The trick is to stick with some fundamentals, keep your eye on the ball, and involve professionals. Many of us, however, imagine ourselves striking it rich in one moment, making the big score and eliminating worry.

Here’s a terrific image from our historical collection. It’s an ambrotype, and dates approximately to the late 1850s, about the time Wells Fargo opened for business. The man holds a good sized nugget of ore, and the couple seems satisfied. They look to have hit it big, and are celebrating with some fine clothes and a portrait. Maybe they’ll book passage back East and buy that farm they’ve dreamed of. Whatever the reality of the moment, we are able 160-plus years later to participate in in, to actually celebrate it with them. We get it, which defies the great amount of time between us and that moment.

Ambrotypes were a photographic technology of the 1850s. I can’t date it any closer than that; any history sleuths out there who can find clues to date it more accurately?

California Gold Rush portrait, ca. late-1850s. (Wells Fargo historical collection)

California Gold Rush portrait, ca. late-1850s. (Wells Fargo historical collection)

Be the first to comment

Wells Fargo at bat

Wells Fargo & Co. Express baseball team.  Denver, 1910sSummertime is in full swing, and we are about half way through the official 2014 Major League Baseball season. One of the interesting things about banks from across the country is that many of them have had their own baseball teams. In the Wells Fargo Corporate Archives we often come across great images of the employee teams, including this one from our old express office in Denver. Here are a few baseball teams from Wells Fargo’s past I want to share with you.

Having grown up in Los Angeles, baseball games mean Dodger stadium, with Dodger dogs and peanuts. This is hard to admit now that I live in San Francisco—the Giants and the Dodgers have a notorious rivalry!

Here’s to fun summertime pastimes—what are some of your favorite ways to enjoy the sunny season?

Wells Fargo Nevada National Bank baseball team, 1914 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

First National Bank of San Francisco baseball team, 1892 (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Southern Arizona Bank & Trust Co. (Tucson) baseball team, 1970s (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Northwestern National Bank of Minneapolis baseball team, date unknown (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Northwestern National Bank of Minneapolis women’s baseball team, date unknown (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

First National Bank of Palm Beach baseball team, 1940s (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Philadelphia Trust Co.baseball team. “Present” image from 1920, other image date unknown (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

1 Comment

Wells Fargo stagecoach celebrates the 4th of July

Fireworks, friends, barbecues, American flags, games … just a few ways I’ll be celebrating the 4th of July weekend.  I hope you get to do the same!

Celebrations will be happening all over the USA this weekend, and our stagecoach will be stopping by a few to show our American pride; will we be at yours?

The Wells Fargo stagecoach in Dunwoody, Georgia, 2013 (Wells Fargo Stagecoach appearance program

The Wells Fargo stagecoach in Dunwoody, Georgia, 2013 (Wells Fargo Stagecoach appearance program)

Date Event City State
7/3/2014 Menomonee Falls Optimists Club Independence Day Parade Menomonee Falls WI
7/3/2014 Cody Stampede July 3rd Parade Cody WY
7/4/2014 Show Low July 4th event Show Low AZ
7/4/2014 Tempe July 4th Event Tempe AZ
7/4/2014 Mayors July 4th Parade Alameda CA
7/4/2014 Coronado 4th of July Parade Coronado CA
7/4/2014 Huntington Beach 4th of July Parade Huntington Beach CA
7/4/2014 Pacific Palisades Fourth of July Parade Pacific Palisades CA
7/4/2014 Scripps Ranch Civic Assoc. 4th of July Parade San Diego CA
7/4/2014 Ocean Park 4th of July Parade Santa Monica CA
7/4/2014 Truckee 4th of July Parade Truckee CA
7/4/2014 City of Naples July 4th Parade Naples FL
7/4/2014 Dunwoody, GA 4th of July Parade Dunwoody GA
7/4/2014 Champaign County Freedom Celebration Champaign IL
7/4/2014 VP Fair Parade (FLOAT) St. Louis MO
7/4/2014 Mandan Rodeo Days 4th of July Parade Mandan ND
7/4/2014 Silver City Chamber of Commerce 4th of July Parade (FLOAT) Silver City NM
7/4/2014 Jefferson County 100 Year Parade Madras OR
7/4/2014 112th Annual Grand, Glorious, Patriotic Parade Glenside PA
7/4/2014 Red White and Blue Festival Greenville SC
7/4/2014 Brady, TX July Jubilee – 4th of July Parade Brady TX
7/4/2014 Canyon’s Independence Day Celebration (FLOAT) Canyon TX
7/4/2014 Lakeway 4th of July Parade Lakeway TX
7/4/2014 4th on Broadway Lubbock TX
7/4/2014 American Freedom Festival Provo UT
7/4/2014 Cody Stampede July 4th Parade Cody WY
7/4/2014 Jackson Hole Centennial Celebration Jackson WY
7/5/2014 Red, White & Tahoe Blue 4th of July Parade Incline Village NV
7/6/2014 Crystal Lake Independence Day Parade Crystal Lake IL

If you see us at your event, share your pictures with @WellsFargo #stagecoach

Be the first to comment

Inspire. Hope. Change.

Oregon Regional President Tracy Curtis was very festive in Portland (Wells Fargo Stagecoach Appearance program)

Oregon Regional President Tracy Curtis was very festive in Portland (Wells Fargo Stagecoach Appearance program)

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) PRIDE month is definitely one of the happiest months of the year. The “official” month comes to an end today, but celebrations are far from over.

A Presidential Proclamation from May 30th called “upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people …” Wells Fargo is celebrating that diversity—it’s part of our Vision and Values!

Wells Fargo has participated in PRIDE events since 1992, and this year we are participating in nearly 50 events across the country; our legendary stagecoach rolls through many of those events, supporting our communities.  Thousands of team members come out in full force showing their support, waving flags, holding giant balloons, and wearing their PRIDE shirts emblazoned with “INSPIRE. HOPE. CHANGE.”

The “INSPIRE. HOPE. CHANGE.” theme expresses Wells Fargo’s commitment to furthering positive changes that have taken place in the LGBT community.

As an LGBT ally, I demonstrated my support for the community and attended San Francisco PRIDE this past weekend. It was a blast! Not only did I have a great time, I learned something new.  The rainbow flag I waved was designed by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker in 1978, and is the emblem of the LGBT community.  It signifies diversity, and each color has its own meaning: red = life, orange = healing, yellow = sunlight, green = nature, blue = serenity and harmony, and violet = spirit … How cool is that?!

Wells Fargo team members in Asbury Park, New Jersy (Wells Fargo Stagecoach Appearance program)

Wells Fargo team members in Asbury Park, New Jersey (Wells Fargo Stagecoach Appearance program)

Here is a list of PRIDE events with the Wells Fargo Stagecoach, beginning in July 2014. We will update as we add events, and you can also check the full Stagecoach Appearance schedule at wellsfargohistory.com. PRIDE is always a fun event, so if it’s happening in your town, go check it out!

Stagecoach PRIDE schedule
Date City State Event Name
07/19/2014 San Diego CA San Diego PRIDE Parade (float)
08/17/2014 Charlotte NC Charlotte PRIDE Parade
09/21/2014 Dallas TX Alan Ross Freedom Parade
10/11/2014 Orlando FL Come Out with PRIDE parade
10/12/2014 Atlanta GA Atlanta PRIDE parade
Be the first to comment

Like, Wells Fargo

Like us on FacebookIn 2009, Wells Fargo History Museums launched a page on Facebook. We wanted to share our history and our events from the Museum point of view, stories that show how we connect with the community.

Since then, the “Museums Facebook page,” as we call it, has posted several hundred times about Wells Fargo team members, historical milestones, and community involvement. Our goal is to demonstrate our commitment to you and your community’s interests. The values we all share.

We were successful! We have about 5,000 fans and some pretty great stuff. So we will be moving our Museum and History presence on Facebook to the Wells Fargo Facebook page. Look for it there next week. We’ll have more of the same, as part of Wells Fargo’s larger page with tons more content. The Timeline is all about History.

Make sure you go to https://www.facebook.com/wellsfargo and Like us. We’ll see you there.

Be the first to comment

Wells Fargo and Yosemite

John Conness (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

John Conness (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

In 1864, Senator John Conness of California introduced a bill to preserve the magnificent Yosemite Valley, and giant Sequoia trees, in Mariposa Big Tree Grove. Senate Bill 203 proposed granting the land to the State of California for preservation, public use, and recreation “inalienable for all time.” Conness’ legislation swiftly passed both houses of Congress, and President Lincoln signed the bill into law June 30, 1864.

Prior to his term in the U.S. Senate, John Conness had served as Wells Fargo’s express agent in the mining town of Georgetown, Calif. He came west in 1849 looking for gold, but found more success as a small business owner in Georgetown. He became Wells Fargo’s agent in 1856 ,sending and receiving gold, money and goods for local miners and merchants. Conness went to Washington in 1863, representing the Golden State until 1869.

In 1902, Willard E. Worden opened a photographic studio in San Francisco. He found much to capture on film, including the rugged splendor of the Yosemite Valley. Worden was widely known in Europe: His work was exhibited at the Louvre. Late in life, Worden bequeathed a large portion of his work to Wells Fargo Bank, having been impressed with its commitment to history. He died in 1946.

Yosemite Valley from top of canyon. Image attributed to Willard E. Worden. (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Yosemite Valley from top of canyon. Image attributed to Willard E. Worden. (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

1 Comment

Wells Fargo telegraph

On June 20, 1840, Samuel F.B. Morse patented the telegraph. It’s pretty safe to claim that the telegraph made business in America modern, and that it accelerated the pace of everyday life very quickly.

The telegraph was an important tool that Wells Fargo used to transact customer business. It was fundamental to Wells Fargo through the Express era, which ended domestically in 1918, but also banking well into the 20th century.

Wells Fargo telegraph ad, 1870s (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Wells Fargo telegraph ad, 1870s (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Morse was an artist who also had a passion for mathematics and science, including electricity. (Morse was Phi Beta Kappa.) His development as a painter of note was interrupted by his wife’s death, which spurred him to explore ways to communicate rapidly over distance.

Morse received his first patent (US Patent no. 1,647) for “Improvement in the mode of communicating information by signals by the application of electro-magnetism.” His elegant Morse Code, on his telegraphic device, became the standard of information, just as computers and their coding are today.

Soon after, business users of the telegraph enjoyed “a leg up” on the competition, as they got fast information on market conditions. (People didn’t use the telegraph, early on, for personal communication very much. That came later as the technology expanded across geography.) From multiple locations that opened whenever a new settlement needed basic financial services, to stagecoach networks, to the railroad, to the telegraph, Wells Fargo used  available technology to help customers succeed financially.  In the express business, service speed and reliability differentiated successful companies from the others. Social media, internet and Mobile banking show how Wells Fargo embraces technology today.

Wells Fargo History Museums have a working telegraph, so you could say we’re still using them for everyday operations.Oh!—and don’t forget blogging. It gets the word out, too.

Wells Fargo telegraph operator, Moray, Kansas. 1898. (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Wells Fargo telegraph operator, Moray, Kansas. 1898. (Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Be the first to comment