Wells Fargo History Museum in downtown Phoenix

I found another great place to take your in-town guests and it’s very kid friendly. The Wells Fargo History Museum in downtown Phoenix is an awesome little gem of a museum that sits near our Washington/Central Ave and Jefferson/1st Ave stations. Free entry for all and an easy way to spend an hour before a game or showing your relatives some of what the “wild west” was all about.

The collection of fine Western-themed art is impressive. There are oil paintings by some of the great western artists plus numerous bronze statues.

There are interactive exhibits for the kids, and yes I enjoyed this one too. You can sit on a replica stagecoach and it will teach you how to drive one. It talks about the role that horses had in pulling the stagecoach. The two up front were the “leaders.” These were the smart athletic ones that could pull and listen for commands from the driver. The two middle horses were called the “swingers” and were easily controlled by the other two pair. The two at the back were the “wheelers.” These two would be the largest and strongest horses to provide stability nearest the coach. The horses were not driven by the reins but by voice commands from the driver.


Imagine going from Omaha to Sacramento by stagecoach. Your ticket was $300 and the stagecoach’s speed was only five miles per hour. That’s a trip of about 2 weeks of 24 hours a day on a stagecoach. You would be allowed to stretch your legs when they stopped to hook up a fresh team of horses. You were only allowed 25 pounds of belongings, which was equal to 15 pounds of personal possessions, as your typical “luggage” was a wooden chest that averaged 10 pounds when empty. This made me appreciate my spinner luggage and travel by airplanes.

While looking at the exhibits I found one from Tucson. It looks like there might be a possible link between Wells Fargo and the shootout at the OK Corral in Tombstone. On March 18, 1881 there was a stagecoach robbery on the Benson to Tombstone line. The driver and a passenger were killed by an outlaw group called the “Cowboys.” Marshall Williams gathered his posse including Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan Earp, and Bat Masterson to hunt the criminals down. It’s reported that this is the group that the Earp’s were trying to take into custody near the OK Corral on October 26, 1881.

This western history museum is located on the first floor of the Wells Fargo bank building and open on weekdays, similar to the bank’s hours, and closed on bank holidays. And did I mention that it’s free? It’s in downtown Phoenix, and is easily accessible from the Jefferson/1st Ave stations eastbound train platform or the westbound train platform at Washington/Central Ave.

Dennise Metzger
Operations Communications Specialist
Denni is a Phoenix native, born at St. Joseph’s Hospital and graduated from Paradise Valley High School. Her first career was with the Phoenix Police Department as a Communications Operator. During her career she received numerous commendations, including one of the highest honors from the Police Chief: the Police Chiefs Certificate of Recognition. She called her time there “an amazing, sometimes very stressful and fascinating career.” In November 2018 she retired from Phoenix PD and started a career with Valley Metro.