Started in 1852 by Henry Wells and William G. Fargo, the two founders lent their names to the newly christened Wells, Fargo and Company. Although established in New York City, the company was founded to service America’s western states, which were rapidly growing thanks to California gold rush.
Wells, Fargo and Company provided express transport services for gold, money, valuables and other items, as well as banking services for gold, and bank drafts. It would later also include stagecoach lines, hence the iconic logo with a horse-drawn stagecoach, and historic stagecoaches at the foyer of all of the company’s major buildings.
This wasn’t Wells and Fargo’s first company, nor their first one offering express and banking services.
In 1850 the two men and John Warren Butterfield merged their competing gold, money and valuables express services to create American Express. Wells and Fargo wanted American Express to expand its services to America’s western states, but fell out with Butterfield and other directors who disagreed with those proposals.
And that’s when they decided to start a new company to service California and the west. In 1905, the Wells Fargo split its banking and express services into two different companies. In 1918, the express company was nationalised by the US government as Railway Express Agency during World War I.