I visit this little-known museum in downtown Portland. It’s free, but is it worth your time?
Believe it or not, the Well’s Fargo History Museum is kind of nice. Yes, it’s a museum about a bank. If you can get past all the political baggage attached to banks (Wall Street, Housing Crisis, The 1%, etc) for just a few minutes, there is a lot to like about this little hidden gem in downtown Portland.
First of all, Wells Fargo’s history is weaved into the story of the American West. Stage coaches, the pony express, bank robbers, horses and telegraphs are important parts of both stories and you’ll learn about all of it inside this little, lobby museum.
The first thing you’ll notice is the impressive full-size stage coach in the middle of the lobby. It’s pretty neat to look at and imagine traveling across county inside. While you can’t get inside, there is a stage coach kiddie-ride in the back that’s free! But much like the real thing, it’s a very bumpy ride. My little one only made it a few seconds before wanting off.
My favorite part of the museum is the working telegraph. It comes complete with code books, so you can send messages to your friends on the other side of the lobby. I think older kids would really dig this. I know I was obsessed with secret codes when I was a kid.
There are also some cool photos of the original Wells Fargo in Portland. I don’t know about you, but I’m always fascinated by how rough this city once was. And before you leave, don’t miss the charming “gift shop” in the lobby.
The museum is inside the Wells Fargo Building in downtown, I suggest entering on the 5th avenue side for easiest access. And don’t forget it’s free, so no pressure is you just stop in to ride the stagecoach and leave. Happy trails!
P.S. There is a Rose’s Deli one floor down if you need lunch/snack/piece of cake afterwards.
WELLS FARGO HISTORY MUSEUM
1300 SW 5TH AVENUE
MONDAY-FRIDAY 9AM-5PM (CLOSED ON BANK HOLIDAYS)