|A major shipper in Wisconsin Rapids, and the source of some billboard
lettering on Western Refrigerator Lines cars.
Jacob and David Lutz bought a brewery near this location in 1880.
After it burned in 1891, the building in the picture was built as a
replacement and was known in Grand Rapids as the "Lutz
Brewery." David Lutz also operated a cigar factory in the old
courthouse building next door. In 1904 the company was reorganized as
the Grand Rapids Brewing Company. The company went bankrupt in 1922
after prohibition went into effect.
Henry Sampson Sr. bought the building at 1251 North First Street (the
corner of First and Oliver Streets) on the east side of Wisconsin Rapids
He operated a canning company with his son Henry Sampson Jr. in the
building. Originally named the Grand Rapids Canning Company, it was
later changed to the Sampson Canning Company. The canning company was
served by a spur off the Green Bay & Western RR, just west of the
In 1929 GB&W subsidiary Western Refrigerator Lines added a fleet
of wood sided refrigerator cars to their roster. Fifty of the WRX
11000-11999 reefers carried "Sampson Canning Company"
billboard lettering. The billboard era ended in July 1934 when the
Interstate Commerce Commission ruled that cars could no longer be
painted with the lessee's name any larger than 12 inches. After January
1937 billboard reefers would no longer be accepted for interchange
between railroads. Apparently some of the WRX "Sampson Canning
Company" cars kept their billboard lettering beyond that date, in
violation of the ICC ruling.
The building still stands in Wisconsin Rapids. I am unsure of when
Sampson Canning went out of business.