The History of Tow Trucks

Many people don’t think about tow trucks also known as wreckers until their car is stranded somewhere.  Very few people realize that tow services is an industry with a long history.  It is widely believed that tow trucks and services originated in 1916 and pioneered by Ernest Holmes Sr.  Ernest and a large group of men helped pull a friend’s car from a ditch and through that exercise he came up with the idea for his initial design.  Holmes received his first patent in 1919 and started selling branded wreckers mounted on the back of cars.  Holmes based his operations in his hometown of Chattanooga, TN and they remained there until 1973 when Holmes son, Ernest Holmes Jr. retired.

Fittingly, there is a now an International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum in Chattanooga.  The museum was not always located in Chattanooga, in fact for many years the museum was a traveling exhibit inside of a tractor trailer pulled around the country by tow trucks.  Under the leadership of William Thomas Jr. the museum first located in a small building in Chattanooga before moving to its final location on Broad street in 2003.  According to the museum directors the museum receives approximately ten thousand visitors a year.  Besides the obvious exhibit of tow trucks and wreckers through the years there are also 275 individuals honored in the hall of fame.  A little less known or appropriately appreciated at least until it is visited is the wall of the fallen memorial at the museum.  Here is where those killed in the line of duty are honored.  Unfortunately, an average of 50 service men and women a year are killed in the line of duty.  Besides honoring those that have fallen the museum also has setup a fund to assist the families of the deceased.

The towing and service industry is currently a $15 billion industry that includes several publications.  Tow Times, American Towman and On Call 24/7 are the three biggest publications and the ones read by the industry experts.  Towing and wrecker service is common place now throughout most of the United States.  Pretty much no matter where you are at there is access to a tow service.  If you need a tow company in Fremont or New York you are covered from coast to coast.

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