Released in 2018, Plush Pony Hunter was named after a popular horse at the Wells Fargo’s stables in San Francisco, California. His Plush Pony honored the hard work of all of Wells Fargo’s horses during the 1906 earthquake and fires.
In 1916, members of an animal welfare organization in San Francisco, California, followed Wells Fargo Foreman William A. Fields through the company’s impressive stables. The visitors had come to investigate how Wells Fargo had gained its reputation as a leader in the industry at taking care of its working horses. As Fields walked through the row of stalls with his visitors, he stopped to give a pat and a lump of sugar to a large gray horse named Hunter. He explained that while Hunter looked fit and young, he was actually 19 years old, and one of the oldest horses in the stables.
Wells Fargo Stable Foreman William A. Fields posed with this unknown horse during his 1916 tour with a local animal welfare organization. Wells Fargo Corporate Archives.
Evacuees look on as San Francisco burns on April 18, 1906. Wells Fargo Corporate Archives.
Hunter had walked through the streets of San Francisco with his driver for many years. He would stop at homes and businesses to pick up and deliver important packages for customers. New dresses, cameras, and gold coins all were delivered in his wagon. As one of the biggest horses in the stable, Hunter was able to pull heavier items and more packages than others.
Something that went unspoken during Foreman Fields’ tour of the stables was that Hunter was a living connection to a time when the horses of Wells Fargo helped the people of San Francisco during a difficult and dangerous time.On April 18, 1906, a massive earthquake struck San Francisco. The shaking lasted 45 to 60 seconds and ruptured gas lines causing a dangerous fire that engulfed the city.
A Wells Fargo wagon driver and horse continue their rounds through the rubble. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco Public Library.
The temporary headquarters of Wells Fargo’s express business at Franklin and Golden Gate avenues. The ruined dome of San Francisco City Hall is in the background. Wells Fargo Corporate Archives.
Dr. Edward Topham, the chief surgeon of St. Mary’s Hospital led a hurried evacuation of the hospital, enlisting the help of Wells Fargo whose stables nearby provided horses and large wagons for the evacuation of patients to the waterfront. He wrote later:
The horses brought the patients to the waterfront where they were loaded on a steamship. By 5 pm, about the time the boat landed the refugees in Oakland, St. Mary’s Hospital and surrounding blocks had been obliterated by fire. Wells Fargo’s stables a few blocks south on Folsom Street burned after nightfall. All of the company’s horses and wagons were saved, after having been moved to temporary quarters away from the fire.In the days immediately following the quake, horses were needed to move rubble and relocate survivors. Wells Fargo horses worked long hours to help the people of San Francisco recover and rebuild.
View down Market Street of the damage caused by the 1906 earthquake and fire. Wells Fargo Corporate Archives.
Horse at the temporary stables set up at Broadway Street, between Sansome and Battery after the 1906 earthquake and fire. Wells Fargo Corporate Archives.