On Tuesday, Arizona celebrates 100 years of statehood. At long last, something to do on February 14th!
There is a huge celebration in Phoenix this weekend. Wells Fargo will participate, with the Stagecoach on display at Arizona Best Fest. (And in the Parada del Sol in Scottsdale, too.) The Wells Fargo History Museum will have a booth at the event, with photo opportunities, children’s story times and coloring books, and stagecoach history talks during the weekend’s events. The Museum highlights Wells Fargo’s long history in Arizona.
In 1852, Wells Fargo opened for business in gold rush California, where thousands went in search of fortune. The Company quickly expanded into western mining camps and settlements.
Wells Fargo & Company’s Express provided essential banking services, reliable transportation of gold and goods, and dependable mail delivery. Agents purchased gold dust, took deposits, and offered convenient bank drafts and checks to facilitate safe transport of money over long distances. One newspaper editor called Wells Fargo, “The universal business agent of all the region from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.”
Wells Fargo relied heavily on the stagecoach in the early days of its business. In Arizona, stages provided regular mail service and transportation to remote towns, and brought out gold and silver from mines in Tombstone and other mining districts. In 1866, Wells Fargo consolidated operation of the West’s major stage lines, connecting eastern and western states until completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. The “iron horse” eventually replaced the stagecoach.
In 1888, Wells Fargo was the nation’s first transcontinental express company, open for business in over a hundred Arizona communities—including Flagstaff, Mesa, Prescott, Scottsdale, Yuma, Tucson, and Phoenix. Efficient handling of express business—sending money and goods, quickly and safely—was a hallmark of Wells Fargo.
Our banking legacy in Arizona
Wells Fargo traces its Arizona banking heritage back to the Company’s early beginnings. Gold and silver were plentiful in the West, but coin and currency were scarce. So were chartered banks—the role of banker was often assumed by local merchants, such as the Tucson freighting and mercantile firm Lord & Williams (today part of Wells Fargo).
Wells Fargo Express transported gold and coin for many early Arizona banks, including Bank of Arizona, which opened in Prescott in 1877 as the first chartered bank in the Arizona Territory. Bank of Arizona opened an agency in Phoenix, which by 1887 was operating under federal charter as The National Bank of Arizona.
In 1957, Bank of Arizona and The National Bank of Arizona formed First National Bank of Arizona, serving 37 communities. First National became First Interstate Bank of Arizona in 1981, which merged with Wells Fargo in 1996.
Today, these and other historic banking institutions—Tucson’s Southern Arizona Bank and Trust Company (1903), Yavapai County Savings Bank in Prescott (1906), and First National Bank of Holbrook (1922)—continue their tradition of serving Arizonans as Wells Fargo.