Wells Fargo & Co’s Express 2009


Wells Fargo Silver Reef

replica- Wells Fargo & Co's Express. mid fire paper clay, redwood, metal, glass.19" x 11" x 5".2009

Wells Fargo & Co’s Express, Silver Reef, Utah. 1877

I was instantly intrigued when I first saw this building in the Sunset pictorial “Ghost Towns of the West”. The black and white image, taken by famous photographer William Carter, Shows large rusting metal doors hanging precariously from corroded hinges. They were obviously there to at one time keep people out.

1963 William Carter photo from Sunset pictorial "Ghost Towns of the West"


The wonderful stonework cut from the nearby red sandstone cliffs by George Brooks and laid by Ira Mcmullin in 1877, stands as a testament to time. Once called the finest stone building in Southern Utah, the restored former Wells Fargo Express office is on the National Historic Register and now serves as a wonderful museum. In color, the building and surrounding landscape is awash in beautiful pink and cream hues. The cutouts and sash stones on the upper part of the façade, were laid to be removed later for windows on an added second floor. Unfortunately the town began its decline the year after it was constructed. Rather than create the metal doors with ceramic and iron oxide wash, which I had used before, I used thin sheet Pewter foil wrapped around a solid substrate. The crude hardware was created using copper strips and very small brass rivets and wire.It took me three attempts to create the metal doors the way I wanted them. They were then treated several times to give them that weathered look. I had also made a substantial leap in my woodworking skills in creating the detail in the doors and transoms. I was not able to create more than one copy of this building, a great deal of time and effort went into this one piece. It may be hard to part with it someday.


wet clay

creating Wells Fargo doors


Additional information

History of Silver Reef Utah

HABS images, diagrams, data pages; enter Silver Reef Utah in “Search THIS collection”

Wells Fargo Silver Reef Museum


creating Wells Fargo metal doors





photo by Lambert Florin from his 1967 book "Ghost Town El Dorado"

from Historic American Building Survey diagrams






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