Legacy Story Collection
The history of General Motors in Janesville dates back to 1918 when the company branched out into farm vehicles by buying the Samson Tractor Co. Within 12 months after the purchase, nearly 150 tractors per day were rolling off the production line. Car production at the Janesville plant began in 1923, but the Great Depression shuttered the plant from 1932 to 1934. The plant made 16 million 105 mm artillery shells during World War II, then returned to automotive production after the war. It employed around 7,000 workers at its peak but was down to about 1,200 when it ceased production of GM vehicles. On December 23, 2008, many Janesville General Motors assembly line workers walked along and watched the last vehicle make its way through the final assembly.
Over the years, the plant was recognized for its top-quality production of vehicles, but the line workers who worked their whole careers at the plant say it was about the people working alongside them that made it special. Many memories were made over the years inside the 4.8 million-square-foot facility. Collecting the stories from the generations of people who worked at General Motors, Fisher Body, and the UAW will help commemorate and honor the history of our community.
“Even though the plant will be gone, the bonds we have created and the spirit of the community remain through the credit union,” said Glenn Lea, Blackhawk’s first President.
If you would like to share your story and contribute to the legacy, please fill out the form below.