I think that if you are well over 90 years young, or just nine years old, or perhaps somewhere in between, have lived in Columbus all your life, maybe moved away from town as a kid or young adult, or just passed through Columbus, Indiana, as a touring visitor. or perhaps a newcomer now calling Columbus home-------one word would ring a bell with everyone----------CUMMINS.
And why would that be? Well, of course, there is CUMMINS Engine Company, famous and recognized, throughout the world in 2007, and for many years prior. For the youngsters that may be accessing these message boards, and hopefully encouraged to do so by their teachers or parents in a quest to access the history of Columbus, via some grassroots memories, as well as extensive research, this may be the ‘definition’ of CUMMINS that they know.......CUMMINS makes diesel engines, and often these kiddos proudly saying, ‘My dad/my grandpa works/worked there.’
Recent posts, and after much research by RER/Bob, Richard, and others, there has accumulated quite a lot of history on these message boards about CUMMINS Engine Company and its connection to the Irwin/Miller families.
But wait, how many of you may remember your folks pointing out to you, in your youth, as you went past the back side of Irwin Gardens, out by the greenhouses, a rather small garage? And can you remember trying to peek in the windows to get a glimpse inside this special place that was a part of Columbus history? Or maybe you have explored the CUMMINS offices downtown on a tour, or perhaps a field trip, and seen the exhibits housed there. Or maybe you made your way home from school via the CUMMINS factory, over 50 years ago, just to watch them work on a race car for the Indy 500. Maybe your folks would rather proudly mention quite a famous Columbus person, somebody that they knew personally-------‘just a chauffer’ for the Irwin/Miller family------------CLESSIE CUMMINS.
Most definitely CLESSIE CUMMINS should have a special place of mention in ‘Columbus Residents of Distinction.’ Our hats are off to this gentleman for his contributions to Columbus history, and being responsible, to a large extent, for putting Columbus on the map via his ingenuity, his ‘experiments and inventions and many patents.’ CLESSIE CUMMINS surely made a significant impact on the history of Columbus.
Please do check out this information from the message boards to see how CLESSIE CUMMINS fits into the colorful history of Columbus, Indiana.
The Historic Columbus Indiana Message Board - Cummins Engine Company, under Industries.
At The Indianapolis 500 It is Customary For the Announcer To Say: "Ladies and gentlemen Start Your Engines"
Wonder if they paused, when Clessie created the First "Diesel Race Car"? Maybe, this comical twist: Gentlemen, start your engines and Clessie Cummins start that high tech diesel you created!
Clessie's life-time adventures included creation, drive, motivation, ingenuity, self-satisfaction, job satisfaction and personal sacrifice. It wasn't just making money in his mind, it was something a lot of folks strive for during their lifetime; it is called pride in accomplishments and contributions to the free world. I would say Clessie did his dream to the fullest degree.
Clessie or William G. Irwin once said it took approximately 18 years for our "bookkeeping department to start using black ink instead of red." Historically, they started before 1919 but incorporated Cummins Engine Company in 1919. Through the years a constant lose was incurred and it got to a point that William G. Irwin was about to pull the plugs on money and financing the adventures. However, Clessie's installation of a diesel engine in a 1925 Packard Automobile guaranteed the future financial backing to develop diesel powered cars and trucks. Prior, to that historical development Mr. Irwin knew that the boat marine diesel engines they were selling wouldn't carry the business through the downturns of the American economy. The great depression was near, the stock market had crashed, and unfavorable times were approaching fast.
My father once said to me during his 38 year tenure at Cummins, and he was right. Son, this "country's economy grows and survives, on it's wheels." He was right, because most things you purchase nationwide are delivered by diesel truck engines. So, when you see and hear the roaring diesel trucks, you can thank Clessie Cummins for many things in life you enjoy.
The "Winner" is Clessie Cummins
Sources: Picture Indy 500 display and Wikipedia picture. Indiana history and comments by Clessie Cummins during his lifetime. Richard and my discussion about Clessie and my family's comment about the value of diesel trucks today.