California Museums


Wells Fargo Museum, Los Angeles, CA

Wells Fargo Museum - Los Angeles, California

Wells Fargo Museum, 333 South Grand. Los Angeles, CA 90071
Call: 213-253-7166
Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Los Angeles--The name Wells Fargo is forever linked with the image of a six-horse stagecoach thundering across the American West, loaded with gold. The 150 year history began in 1852 when Henry Wells and William Fargo founded Wells, Fargo & Co. to serve the West. The new company offered banking (buying gold, and selling paper bank drafts) - and express delivery of the gold and other valuables.

Wells Fargo opened began during the gold rush near the port of San Francisco. Success came quickly as Wells Fargo began opening offices in cities and mining camps of the West. In the boom and bust economy of the 1850s, Wells Fargo earned a reputation of trust by dealing rapidly and responsibly with people's money. In the 1860s, it earned fame with its overland stagecoach line. Wells Fargo transported items by the fastest means possible: stagecoach, steamship, railroad, pony rider or telegraph. In 1858, Wells Fargo helped start the Overland Mail Company - the famed "Butterfield Line" - to meet the demand for speedy communications across the west. In 1861, Wells Fargo also took over operations of the western leg of the short-lived Pony Express.

In 1866, Wells Fargo combined all the major western stage lines. Stagecoaches bearing the name Wells, Fargo & Co. rolled over 3,000 miles of territory, from California to Nebraska, and from Colorado into the mining regions of Montana and Idaho. Read more about the Wells Fargo Stagecoach.

After the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, Wells Fargo began adopting the railroads for transport of goods and products. In 1888, after expanding along the new steel network across the Northeast into New York, Wells Fargo became the country's first nationwide express company. It adopted the motto "Ocean-to-Ocean" to describe its service that connected over 2,500 communities in 25 states, and "Over-the-Seas" to highlight its lines linking America's increasingly global economy.

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.

In 1905 Wells Fargo & Co's Bank, San Francisco (as it was called since 1852), formally separated from Wells Fargo & Co Express. By 1910 the Company's network linked 6,000 locations, including new offices in the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions. By 1918 Wells Fargo was part of 10,000 communities across the country. That year, however, the federal government took over the nation's express network as part of its effort in the First World War. Wells Fargo was left with just one bank in San Francisco.In the Wells Fargo Center on Bunker Hill in downtown Los Angeles, this museum highlights the Company's role in Southern California. Exhibits include an original Concord Coach, gold (including the 100-ounce Challenge Nugget), a panoramic painting of Los Angeles in 1852, a historically recreated Agent's office, and the story of Wells Fargo & Hollywood.

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