While reading Warren Buffett’s 2013 letter to the Shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway a few days ago, I was reminded of the Wells Fargo bank and its History Museum at San Francisco, that we visited during our honeymoon last year.
As we could learn in the museum the history of the bank is very much linked to the expansion of the nation to the West in the XIX century, the discovery of gold in California, and mail and express services.
Both founders, Wells and Fargo, were prominent figures in the express services (what now would be UPS or FedEx). They had already formed American Express, and wanted to expand to the West, however most directors doubted about the idea, and Wells and Fargo decided to start that venture in 1852 independently, with the aim of providing express and banking services in California.
After a bank run in 1855, Wells Fargo emerged as a sound, dependable bank practically without competition in California. The fate of the West expansion was since linked to the bank, which provided not only banking and express services, all types of other services of transportation, communications, the iconic stagecoach service, the Pony Express, etc.
Thus, the visit of the bank’s museum becomes a discovery of some of the details and processes that helped and fueled the expansion to and development of the West coast.
The museum is located besides the HQ of the bank at Montgomery Street, the entrance is free and I do recommend the visit.