Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wells Fargo On Western Wednesday...!

Not many names inspire images of the Old West as does the name of Wells Fargo.

The name alone brings forth thoughts and mind pictures of stage coaches and men riding shotgun, at least it does for me! The company was started at a time when dependable transportation for freight and people was sorely needed. The fact that it is still alive today in the form of banking institutions says a lot, if you ask me!

Mar 18, 1852:
Wells and Fargo start shipping and banking company

On this day in 1852, in New York City, Henry Wells and William G. Fargo join with several other investors to launch their namesake business.

The discovery of gold in California in 1849 prompted a huge spike in the demand for cross-country shipping. Wells and Fargo decided to take advantage of these great opportunities. In July 1852, their company shipped its first loads of freight from the East Coast to mining camps scattered around northern California. The company contracted with independent stagecoach companies to provide the fastest possible transportation and delivery of gold dust, important documents and other valuable freight. It also served as a bank--buying gold dust, selling paper bank drafts and providing loans to help fuel California's growing economy.

In 1857, Wells, Fargo and Co. formed the Overland Mail Company, known as the "Butterfield Line," which provided regular mail and passenger service along an ever-growing number of routes. In the boom-and-bust economy of the 1850s, the company earned a reputation as a trustworthy and reliable business, and its logo--the classic stagecoach--became famous. For a premium price, Wells, Fargo and Co. would send an employee on horseback to deliver or pick up a message or package.

Wells, Fargo and Co. merged with several other "Pony Express" and stagecoach lines in 1866 to become the unrivaled leader in transportation in the West. When the transcontinental railroad was completed three years later, the company began using railroad to transport its freight. By 1910, its shipping network connected 6,000 locations, from the urban centers of the East and the farming towns of the Midwest to the ranching and mining centers of Texas and California and the lumber mills of the Pacific Northwest.

After splitting from the freight business in 1905, the banking branch of the company merged with the Nevada National Bank and established new headquarters in San Francisco. During World War I, the U.S. government nationalized the company's shipping routes and combined them with the railroads into the American Railway Express, effectively putting an end to Wells, Fargo and Co. as a transportation and delivery business. The following April, the banking headquarters was destroyed in a major earthquake, but the vaults remained intact and the bank's business continued to grow. After two later mergers, the Wells Fargo Bank American Trust Company--shortened to the Wells Fargo Bank in 1962--became, and has remained, one of the biggest banking institutions in the United States.

By the way, the term "riding shotgun" was derived from the fact that most of the guards on the early stage coaches were armed with shotguns. Normally these armed guards rode next to the driver on top of the coach. In fact, the Ithica Firearms Company came out with a special "Wells Fargo" edition of their shotgun to celebrate the companies part in this endeavor. These guns bearing the Wells Fargo mark are highly sought after as collector pieces.

Another day of coffee out on the patio. I reckon that most folks won't mind that too much! I have some peach pie I'll share!


Rob said...

When I think of "Wells Fargo" I first get the flash of the guy riding shotgun on the stage coach. My next thought is 'those greedy $^#@&*%s! I used to have an account with them, I was not impressed with their greed.

The California gold rush was really something! In Jan 1848 Marshall discovered gold in Coloma, in Aug the New York Herald reported the gold find, in Dec President Polk confirmed the gold in an address to Congress and in 1849 we had the forty-niners! Maybe 90,000 people arrived in 1849.

Yep, when I hear "wells Fargo" I think of the stagecoach & forty-niner before I think of the greedy bankers....

Chickenmom said...

Good one! Can you imagine the skill it took to control those horses? Too bad those drivers turned out to be the greedy teamsters bosses of today. Peach pie? - safe me a seat!

linda m said...

Interesting on how Wells Fargo got started. When I think of them it is the stage coach with the fellow riding shotgun up top. Don't think much of them as a bank (or any greedy bank for that matter). Coffee with peach pie sounds great. Save my spot on the swing for me.

Mamahen said...

Like the others my first thought is the coach and the guy riding shotgun, never delt with them as a bank..... sunny patio coffee n peach pie......count me in :))

JO said...

Yes I have read this somewhere. They bought out many banks here in the west.

Pass the coffee pot please.

Dizzy-Dick said...

Interesting blog today, but you always have interesting blogs!! Except for Sunday (grin). I have an old Ithica double barrel that was my dad's. It has a Damascus steel barrel and is not safe to shoot, although he hunted with it until he died.

HermitJim said...

Hey Rob...
Yep...the stage coach image comes to my mind right away! Funny how some names can call forth a certain image.

Thanks for coming by today!

Hey Phyllis...
Wasn't an easy job, no doubt.

Thanks for stopping by today!

Hey Linda M...
I think that image is what most of us think of!

Thanks for dropping by today!

Hey Mamahen...
Guess we all have the same thought when it comes to the name.

Thanks for the visit today!

Hey Jo...
I reckon that is why so many of the western movies show the bankers as the bad guys! Hasn't changed much!

Thanks, sweetie, for coming by today!

Hey Dizzy...
You mean you don't like the Sunday 'toons?

I'm glad you find the post interesting!

Thanks for stopping by today!