Rumely Allis-Chalmers Heritage Center grand opening is Oct. 7

If your family has been in LaPorte for a long time, odds are good that some relative of yours made a living by working at the Rumely Co. and/or Allis-Chalmers.

In their heydays they were the main games in town industry-wise, employing thousands and churning out farm implements (and at wartime, military vehicles) at sprawling plants in the heart of the city.

Preserving and perpetuating that important history, the Rumely Allis-Chalmers LaPorte Heritage Center will officially establish itself with a grand opening Saturday, Oct. 7, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. An opening ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. The center is located at 2859 W. Ind. 2, near the LaPorte County Small Animal Shelter and the LaPorte County Solid Waste District buildings, across the highway from the LaPorte County Home.

Two above shots taken by Bob Wellinski for WNLP at a preview of the center in April 2017.

The Rumely Company opened at the current LaPorte Hospital site in 1853 and specialized in harvesting machines, most notably threshing machines and large tractors.

The Rumely Co. was purchased by Wisconsin-based Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company in 1931. Besides Rumely’s line of farming machines, Allis-Chalmers execs were drawn by Rumely’s extensive dealer network, which was instantly converted to the complete Allis-Chalmers product line. The “LaPorte plant,” as Advance-Rumely’s main headquarters was called, became known as the “Harvester Capitol of the World” thanks to its production of Allis-Chalmers’ successful All-Crop harvester line.

Allis-Chalmers finally closed its LaPorte operations in 1985 in the midst of a lengthy national recession.

The Rumely Allis-Chalmers LaPorte Heritage Center is dedicated to promoting, through its center and projects, a better understanding and appreciation of the agricultural and industrial heritage of the Rumely and Allis-Chalmers companies and their employees.

Visit the center during its grand opening to view a variety of memorabilia huge and small, including OilPulls, tractors, threshers and other equipment, as well as signs and other advertising items, toys, employee garb, and other memorabilia.

If you have some A-C or Rumely items (large or small) to show off, please feel free to bring them; just let organizers what you’re bringing ahead of time so setup can be prepared.

Admission to the grand opening is free; food and refreshments will be available for purchase.  

For more information on the center, visit http://www.rumelyallis.com and its Facebook page, Rumely Allis-Chalmers La Porte Heritage Center. To talk to someone about bringing items to the grand opening, contact Brian Bunge at allis25@frontier.com or 219-608-1269, Paul Rymer at 219-369-1690, or Chuck Wiltfong at 219-861-9495.

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