Nellie

Nellie Plush Pony

In 1897, Rush Blodget started working for Wells Fargo as a wagon driver in Bakersfield, California. The town was about to experience an oil boom, but for Rush, the town was a small community of familiar faces. Everyone in town knew Rush and the horse named Nellie that pulled the Wells Fargo wagon.

Every day, Rush and his “working pal” Nellie went to the railroad depot to collect the important business and money packages for Wells Fargo customers in Bakersfield. Nellie knew her job well: she often backed the Wells Fargo wagon up to the depot platform without being told, and waited patiently while Rush loaded the express wagon.

Nellie history

Rush and Nellie performed an important role for local banks dependent on secure shipments of gold coins from San Francisco. In those days, gold coins were the preferred method of payment. Local banks accepted dollar bills reluctantly, and paper money was quickly shipped out of town and exchanged for gold coins. Sometimes, Rush and Nellie carried as much as $20,000 in coins in the back of their wagon.

Bakersfield depot, 1918 Bakersfield depot, 1918
(Wells Fargo Corporate Archives)

Other shipments of coins were less valuable but were just as important to the local economy. The Redhick Brothers started offering the town’s first $.99 bargains from their store, which started putting pennies into the pockets of people throughout Bakersfield. As those pennies found their way into the coffers of the Kern Valley Bank, the cashier had them rounded up and shipped out of town by Wells Fargo express.

One day in 1898, Nellie made an unexpected delivery. Rush and Nellie were at the railroad depot loading the wagon when a sick soldier, returning from service in the Spanish American War, got off the train. Rush recognized that the man in need of help was his brother, Sgt. Claude R. Blodget, who had gone to war with the National Guard a few months before.

At that time, Bakersfield had no ambulance or emergency hospital. Rush loaded Sgt. Blodget onto the wagon and shouted for Nellie to “Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! To my home!” Nellie was famous around town for her calm, slow pace, but on this occasion, understanding the urgency, she picked up a lively trot to Rush’s home where a doctor was called. Once Rush was sure his brother was in safe hands, he and Nellie went back to work.

Sgt. Claude Blodget. Sgt. Claude Blodget.
(Courtesy of the family of Rush M. Blodget Jr.)

Rush and Nellie continued working together until Rush went off to college. Many years later, in a letter to the Wells Fargo museum, Rush shared his story and his fond memories of working with Nellie. “The memory of all those duties brings a sense of nostalgia,” he wrote. “But as I look back, and visualize Alkin Hall at his desk, and the bundles on the floor, and can see through the window, as the symbol of the transportation for which Wells Fargo is so famous, a noble servant of the old express company, standing in quiet dignity waiting her next duty—Nellie.”

Rush Blodget (center) with his brothers Percy (right) and Claude (left.) Rush Blodget (center) with his brothers Percy (right) and Claude (left.)
(Courtesy of the family of Rush M. Blodget Jr.)


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Nellie Activity Book

Download and print the Nellie Wells Fargo Activity Book.

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