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A little bit of Samson remains at plant

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Gazette Staff
December 22, 2008
— In nearly 5 million square feet, it’s easy to miss.

But the Samson Tractor bulldog is still on guard at the General Motors assembly plant in Janesville.


The bulldog, which served as Samson’s logo, is part of a tile on a wall that at one time contained the Samson plant. Now it’s just another wall in the sprawling building.


The tile, which is not a well-known feature of the plant or part of its official tours, is painted yellow and sits well above ground level. It includes the date of 1919, the year construction was completed on the Samson plant and its first Model M came off the assembly line.


The tile came close to following Samson to the graveyard nearly 20 years ago when the plant was remodeled to accommodate medium-duty truck production.


“I had heard that the wall was going to come down, so I called up Bob Getz, the contractor for the project,” recalled Bill Simmons, a former body shop superintendent at the plant who held several other positions before retiring after 38 years. “I told him about the bulldog tile and asked if there was any way he could save it.


“He called me back later and said he not only saved the tile, he saved the wall.”


The original tile was white like the others, Simmons said.


“Although it was etched, it wasn’t very distinguishable,” he said, noting that Getz painted the background yellow and the bulldog and the year black.



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