LAPORTE | It's hard to imagine anything else having more to do with the history of LaPorte, particulary in farming, than Rumely Co. and Allis Chalmers.
Soon, people will be able to get a real glimpse at days when both companies were pioneers in agriculture and employed thousands.
Ground was broken Wednesday for a museum dedicated to the former industry giants that date to the 1800s when Rumely Co. was famous for its Oil Pull tractor.
A volunteer committe began the effort to build support and raise money for the museum seven years ago.
"It's finally come to fruition, and we're going to get it done," said Paul Rymer, treasurer of the Rumely-Allis Chalmers LaPorte Heritage Center.
Rumely Co. was a major manufacturer of heavy farm machinery, including tractors and other agriculture equipment.
The company later became Allis Chalmers, whose plant in LaPorte produced a wide variety farm implements until shutting down in the early 1980s.
Herb Link, 73, of LaPorte, said it's important to have such a museum, "so people don't forget the history of the town and what made the town."
He is refurbishing a 1947 Allis Chalmers tractor that has been in his family for generations.
The museum is going up at the LaPorte County Fairgrounds along Ind. 2.
Construction of a nearly 4,000-square-foot brick and metal structure housing museum office space, artifacts, along with tractor and other equipment displays, should be finished by fall with opening slated for the spring.
Rymer said about $140,000 in mostly donated funds is being used to finance the work.
Two similar size additions containing larger equipment displays and other things like a well-equipped farm shop for restoration and teaching purposes will be added to the museum as additional funds become available.
"A lot of the memorabilia we've collected so far will be contained in the building," said Rymer.
Some of the museum pieces like an early 1900s Rumely tractor standing about 11 feet tall are coming from descendants of the Rumely family.
Rymer is optimistic the museum will succeed because of prevailing high interest in the companies.
"We'll be drawing in people basically from all over the world," said Rymer.