50 Years! A Stagecoach On Parade

On June 14, 1958, Wells Fargo Bank launched a new era in public relations — the bank presented a stagecoach on parade at the opening of a new branch office in Hayward, California Click here to learn about third-party website links. A historic stagecoach from Wells Fargo had been seen before at events, but that appearance in 1958 was the first of a full-fledged program to get coaches out in public on a regular schedule.

The Wells Fargo Coach at the Perry Centennial Parade, Green Bay, Wis. (Click for larger image in a new window)In earlier years, Wells Fargo & Co.’s Express had put historic stagecoaches in parades and other events. After 1929, Wells Fargo Bank had a stagecoach on display at its San Francisco Headquarters, which rolled out at special events: the opening of the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge, and an appearance in the film “Union Pacific.” Click here to learn about third-party website links (That historic stagecoach is still on display in Wells Fargo’s San Francisco History Museum.) It was always popular; but in those years, it wasn’t properly dignified for a bank to advertise so evidently.

In the 1950s, that changed. Banks advertised like any other business wanting to attract customers. Wells Fargo publicity people liked the idea of sharing the Company’s long heritage with interested crowds, and recognized its value as an effective marketing tool. The intention was to restore historic stagecoaches for use “by the bank at branch openings, at fairs and rodeos.” The program was originally confined to Northern California communities where Wells Fargo had offices.

Kids enjoying a Wells Fargo StagecoachThe program was a complete success, and Wells Fargo pressed forward with the idea. A second historic coach was put into service in 1961, then another in 1968. The first of ten coaches, entirely hand-built by Jay Lambert, appeared in 1970. “Hand-built “means exactly that — every square inch, from the ground up, wheels and iron and leather! That year, the Program had coaches in 69 appearances. Since then, there have been thousands of appearances, before hundreds of millions of people. Wells Fargo stagecoaches have appeared in a Presidential inaugural parade and at the Calgary Stampede Click here to learn about third-party website links, and an annual appearance at the Tournament of Roses Click here to learn about third-party website links Parade. Last year, there were 760 appearances before an audience of 22 million people.

Just as it did in the Golden Age of stagecoaches, Wells Fargo works with the very best drivers in its Stagecoach Appearance Program. The Fellingham family has been in the Program since the very beginning, and there are currently 22 drivers, and 25 coaches, from 13 ranches across North America.

In a 1992 television commercial for Wells Fargo, four stagecoaches rode abreast into Sonora, California Click here to learn about third-party website links. Seven stagecoaches total conquered “Main Street” that day, and witnesses remember the sound and feel of 96 thundering hooves.

They got the shot in one take.

This entry was posted in Miscellaneous, Museums, Perspective, Remember, Stagecoach. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to 50 Years! A Stagecoach On Parade

  1. Peter says:

    After all the work you’ve done lately, I suggest Wells Fargo give you the summer off! I enjoy – along with many others that don’t post – all the research it takes to put together these delightful articles on Wells Fargo history.

  2. Charles Riggs says:

    Well, Peter, you’re right and wrong. (You’re the absolute model of the human condition.)

    The summer off? Here? WRONG!!!
    Delightful articles by me? Totally RIGHT!!!

    Not like I have a high opinion of myself or anything…

  3. Kelly says:

    Is it possible to get the Wells Fargo Stagecoach for a parade now?

  4. Kleiglights says:

    I went into your branch in North Auburn, CA, today, 2:30 in the afternoon. There were ten people in line, one on the counter — the day before Thanksgiving. Normally a busy time; why no more tellers on the counter?
    One of the administrative staff then offered to take deposits only, no cash –
    the usual. He started with people at the end of the line, two of them, not bothering to invite those who had waited longest. Abysmal service.

  5. Charles Riggs says:

    Hi Kleiglights:

    All of us here at Wells Fargo are committed to getting it right for the customer—as a matter of policy. Sometimes, though, things go wrong.

    If you want, click on the “Feedback” button below, or the “Ask the Expert” button to the right and send me an email. We’ll do what we can to help.

Guided By History

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