Today, at cities and towns all across the nation people can see the sight of Wells Fargo Stagecoach reproductions during parades and special events. The Wells Fargo Stagecoach remains the logo of the modern banking concern and serves as a symbol of it’s service during the American frontier era.
The stage coach used for today’s parades and events is an authentic, Wells Fargo-approved reproduction. The coach is pulled by a specially trained team of six horses, and guided by an experienced stagecoach driver. Viewing these fine coaches is a real trip back into history.
Who Built the Wells Fargo Stages
The beautiful stagecoaches that Wells Fargo is noted for were built by the Abbott-Downing Company of Concord, New Hampshire. The coaches known as “Concord Coaches” were considered the best built coaches in the country.
Today, there is an Abbott-Downing Historical Society whose purpose is to preserve the history of the Concord Coach and the Abbott-Downing Company.Their website is www.concordcoach.org Plenty of good information on this site as well as an interesting video and information on how to have one of their coaches at your event or parade.
According to their website, the first coach was constructed in 1826/27 and the last circa 1899. The total number of Concord Coaches built totaled approximately 1,700. A Concord Wells Fargo coach weighed about 2,500 lbs and cost about $2,500.
While we’ve usually seen Wells Fargo coaches pulled by a team of six horses, the coaches have also been pulled by teams of two and four.
Wells Fargo Stagecoaches Operated Throughout the West
Wells Fargo transported their customers business from 1852 to 1918 by a variety of methods. This included via steamship, railroad, and, where there were no railroads, by stagecoach.
During their early year Wells Fargo contracted with independent stage lines. Then, Wells Fargo came to own and operate the largest stagecoach operation in the world. That operation became famous with it’s Concord Coaches being pulled by a team of six horses.
Wells Fargo was also involved in the old Butterfield Overland Stage and Mail line helping with finances and having the 2,757 mile route surveyed across the American southwest and California.
The Butterfield line was rather short lived because of the onset of the Civil War. Becaue of Confederate control of Texas and parts of the New Mexico Territory, the route had to be moved to the north, essentially along the old Overland Route along the Platte River and through Wyoming.
At that time, Wells Fargo’s express shipments rode the stages of the Pioneer Stage Line from California to Virginia City, Nevada. The Overland Mail Company, which was controlled by Wells Fargo, ran stagecoaches from Virginia City, Nevada,to Salt Lake City, Utah. From Salt Lake City passengers, mail and express shipments connected with the Overland Express running through Denver, Colorado, and eastward to the Mississippi River. After the Civil War, Wells Fargo bought the Overland Express and combined with the other two lines it owned created the largest stagecoach operation in the world.
You may also enjoy our additional articles on old west stagecoaches found on the links below…
On our Western Trips website see the Black Canyon Arizona Stage Route
Wells Fargo maintains several museums around the country and I recommend you visit one on your next vacation or road trip. Not only can you view their iconic stagecoaches, but also exhibited are banking and express documents, working telegraphs, western art, gold coins, old money, and more. These are interesting museums and make good family trip stops.
All of the ten Wells Fargo Museums are free to enjoy. They are currently located in Charlotte, NC, Anchorage, AK, Los Angeles, CA, Philadelphia, PA, Minneapolis, MN, Portland, OR, Phoenix, AZ, San Diego, CA, Sacramento, CA, and San Francisco, CA.
For more information regarding the Wells Fargo Museums, see website…https://www.wellsfargo.com/about/history/museums/
The Wells Fargo Stagecoaches also appear at events throughout the year. For a current list of planned appearances see their website…http://www.wellsfargohistory.com/stagecoach/appearance-schedule/
Our references and `two very good books regarding the history of Wells Fargo and their stagecoaches include…..Stagecoach : Wells Fargo and the American West by author Philip L. Fradkin. Also see…..Stagecoach: Rare Views of the Old West, 1849-1915 by author Sandor Demlinger.
(Article and photos copyright Trips Into History)