This Day in History: March 18, 1852
Ah-h-h-h! the West. The era when California's economy boomed with the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in 1849. All that gold - where to keep it and how to transport it became the topic of the hour. Prosperous New York businessmen Henry Wells and William Fargo recognized the need and seized the opportunity to begin a transport company. The two men had already helped with the founding of American Express. They ventured forth again and officially created Wells Fargo & Co. on March 18, 1852 with two primary objectives in mind at its inception: transportation and banking.
One must stop and think about the time and location in which all this was taking place. In California, transportation was in its infancy with the railroads not yet being in existence. This turned heads and eyes toward stagecoaches and wagons to provide services to miners, transport gold and deliver freight to businesses. The six-horse stagecoach rattled over rutted roads with their handlers squeamish only at thoughts of outlaws hiding in the brush awaiting its arrival at a designated point of ambush. Sounds exciting but very dangerous!
Wells Fargo rushed customers’ business from the urban centers of New York and New Jersey, through the rail hub of Chicago and farming regions of the Midwest, to ranching and mining centers in Texas and Arizona, and to lumber mill towns in the Pacific Northwest. Wells Fargo agents in towns large and small offered basic financial services like money orders, travelers checks, and transfer of funds by telegraph. Always, though, wherever there was mining, from Alaska to Arizona, Wells Fargo guarded the gold. [Source: Wells Fargo Since 1852]
The enduring symbol of Wells Fargo
A lot has changed from then 'til now...
Wells Fargo History: Stagecoach History