While many people love history, no one likes a forced lesson. But I have to push one on you today—it was on this day in 1852 that Wells Fargo & Company opened for business in San Francisco, California.
Henry Wells and William G. Fargo were express titans in New York. The express business was concerned with getting things from place to place as quickly as possible. Their reputations as expressmen were made by keeping oysters fresh on the journey across New York State, a major accomplishment in the 1840s. Wells and Fargo wanted a piece of the Gold Rush action: there was no better way to get gold from the mines to the mint than by express. It was a great business idea.
They opened 104 years ago on Montgomery Street, about 6 feet away from where Wells Fargo Bank has its world HQ today. Within a few weeks, the second office opened in Portland, Oregon and then in Sacramento, California.
In 1858, the Company helped organize the nation’s first transcontinental stagecoach line, traveling from Missouri to L.A. in a mere three weeks. Stagecoach lore began, and it continued well into the next century. It continues today: the Stagecoach appears every year in hundreds of events, large and small, all over the place.
The Company has prospered over the years by embracing new technology and methods—blogging, for instance. It all began on July 13, 1852, about 50 feet from where I sit.