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Positively Philadelphia: The Wells Fargo Museum

(Museum manager Candice Helgeson sits inside a climb-in replica of a Wells Fargo stagecoach at the bank's museum in center city Philadelphia.  Credit: Lauren Lipton)

(Museum manager Candice Helgeson sits inside a climb-in replica of a Wells Fargo stagecoach at the bank’s museum in center city Philadelphia. Credit: Lauren Lipton)

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Lauren Lipton, a fixture in Philadelphia journalism, is “at the...
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By Lauren Lipton

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — You may have walked by and never noticed it, but there is the coolest little museum at Broad and Walnut Streets in center city.

The Wells Fargo History Museum, at 123 South Broad Street, features a number of exhibits including a full-sized stagecoach!

“You can get inside of it and it rocks back and forth,” Candice Helgeson (top photo), the museum manager, says of a replica you can climb into.  “It gives you the motion that you would have felt if you were actually going out on a 24-day journey across the country.  You can also get your picture taken in front of it.”

wf stagecoach full vert Positively Philadelphia:  The Wells Fargo Museum

(The bank has a full-sized stagecoach in its lobby at Broad and Walnut.)

Hear Lauren Lipton’s full interview with Candice Helgeson in this CBS Philly podcast (runs 11:57)…

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Helgeson says that the Wells Fargo name dates back to 1852, but it started as a much different company than it is today.

“With the westward migration and the gold rush era, they really saw an opportunity to be able to take business out west, so Henry Wells and William Fargo began the company, and they began shipping people, goods, and money by stagecoach.”

wf items Positively Philadelphia:  The Wells Fargo Museum

(Exhibits include a strongbox, a guard’s uniform, and samples of products that were carried on stagecoaches. Credit: Lauren Lipton)

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Lots of things to see, do, and learn here.

“We have a lot of interactives,” Helgeson says.  “This one is actually a gold-panning game; it’s an interactive touchscreen, you have two different gold pans, and you can push the gold into the pans and rock it back and forth.  One of our other interactives is that you can get your face printed on old money.”

Helgeson says the museum includes artifacts from Wells Fargo’s early days.

“This is a treasure box, an example of what would have been put under the driver’s seat or the shotgun guard’s seat to transport the gold, the money.  You’ve heard the term, ‘I want shotgun’ when you’re getting in the front seat?  It actually comes from the stagecoach days.”

wf rolltop desk etc  lipton Positively Philadelphia:  The Wells Fargo Museum

(Credit: Lauren Lipton)

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The exhibits also track the history of banking  in Philadelphia.

The Wells Fargo Museum is open to 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday, and is free.

And that’s “Positively Philadelphia!”

“Positively Philadelphia” main page

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