5 Can’t Miss Moments at the International Towing & Recovery Museum

Attractions, News, Stories

Originally housed in a tractor trailer that traveled the country, the International Towing & Recovery Museum celebrates an industry often overlooked. Founded by Friends of Towing, the museum found its permanent home in Chattanooga in the early 1990s. The Scenic City is, in fact, the birthplace of the tow truck. It was a perfect fit. 

Today the museum offers a unique look at relics from the history of the towing industry. Home to 24 trucks, plus historic golf carts and pedal cars, the collection ranges from models made in the early 1900s to a 2001 pink freightliner. Here’s what not to miss.

  1. The History of Ernest Holmes. A Chattanooga native, Holmes invented the tow truck in 1916 after a frustrating attempt to help get a friend’s flipped truck out of a ditch. He outfitted a Cadillac with a pulley system in his garage, which was just a few blocks from where the museum is located today.
  2. The 1940s Diamond-T 969 WWII Wrecker. Manufactured locally, this vehicle became a part of the Red Ball Express, a convoy that moved supplies for Allied Forces. “This was on the beaches of Normandy and traveled through World War II as the allies pushed the Nazis back,” says the Towing Museum’s Nyle Vincent.
  3. The World’s Fastest Wrecker. This orange and white Chevrolet Silverado registered 130 miles on the straightaway at Talladega Superspeedway in August 1979. Its average speed around the track, a world record, was 109.33 mph. The feat literally melted the tires, which prevented any attempts at a second run.
  4. The Indian Tow Motorcycle. This three-wheeled bike made by Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Company, now owned by Harley-Davidson, was popular in the 1940s. Found in pieces, the bike was put back together based on blueprints.
  5. The 1947 GMC Bubble Nose. A guest-favorite, this vehicle has worked to haul beer for Pabst Brewing and to tow school buses. Abandoned in a field in Wisconsin, it was found and restored by George Lanser, then put in parades and truck shows.










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