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One Hundred Years of Tow Truck History

There are lots of people in history that helped shaped the world we live in today. Many of them were inventors like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison who saw a need for improvement and created inventions to change a situation for the better. One such inventor, not as well known as Franklin and Edison, but just as important nonetheless was Ernest Holmes, Sr.

One hundred years ago, in 1916, Ernest owned a service station in Chattanooga, Tennessee. When he and others heard about a man whose Model T was stuck in a creek, they worked many hours to retrieve it and Ernest knew there had to be a better way.

Shortly after that, he and two other men, L. C. Decker and Elmer Gross, set out to build the first tow truck. Like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison, their first attempts weren’t completely successful. However, they kept at it and improved on each attempt, adding important safety mechanisms, to ensure their tow truck could perform properly.

Holmes patented the tow truck idea creating a business he called, Holmes Wreckers and he began selling the tow trucks to other service stations. His family owned the business until 1973 when it was sold to Miller Industries, the largest manufacturer of wreckers in the world.

With Ernest Holmes, Sr. having lived in Chattanooga, TN, it’s only fitting that the city is home to The International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum. The museum features almost three hundred men and women who have contributed to the success of the towing industry. Also, on the museum grounds, is The Wall of the Fallen which is dedicated to tow truck personnel who have died in the line of service.

The trucks displayed at the museum include everything from toy tow truck collections to the early vehicles built by Holmes and others such as Manley, Vulcan, and Weaver. The museum is a fitting tribute to all that Ernest Holmes, Sr., and those that came after him, have done for the towing industry for the past one hundred years.

Titan Towing is proud to be a part of the vision that Holmes had to rescue stranded drivers using the safest, most efficient equipment. Many of his ideas about safety are still utilized to this day. Professional tow truck drivers from Chattanooga, TN to Arlington, Texas, and all over the country, have Holmes to thank for his insight in creating a thriving towing industry.

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