Museum History

A comprehensive history of the Towing & Recovery industry in respect to the International Towing & Recovery Museum.

1902-02-01 00:00:00

The American Automobile Association, presently AAA, is founded.

1915-02-01 00:00:00

Weaver Manufacturing Company produces an “Auto Ambulance” to tow trucks and cars by their axles

Later, prior to the end of World War I, Weaver produces the Weaver Crane.

1916-02-01 00:00:00

Ernest Holmes builds the first twin-boom wrecker in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Ernest Holmes builds the first twin-boom wrecker in Chattanooga, Tenn., for use in his own garage. He later agrees to sell the units to others. The first production wreckers sold are called 680s because they cost $680.

1917-02-01 00:00:00

Manley Cranes, one of the industry’s earliest workhorses, appear.

1942-08-23 00:00:00

The Ernest Holmes Co. sends the W-45 Military Wrecker for duty in World War II

The old veteran sees duty on the Red Ball Express, the famous, quick-moving 1944 European Theater truck supply operation stocking the American Army as troops advance on German territory.

1950-02-01 00:00:00

First Towing Association Incorporated

The Michigan Towing Association, the country’s oldest association of towing companies in the U.S., is incorporated. Source: Michigan Towing Association website.

1959-02-01 00:00:00

Ernest Holmes Co. patents its first tow sling and car dolly

1968-02-01 00:00:00

Vulcan Equipment Company builds the Lift ’N Tow in Toronto, Canada

Vulcan Equipment Company builds the Lift ’N Tow in Toronto, Canada. Later, the company produces the successful Cradle Snatcher and goes on to produce a full range of towing equipment.

1969-02-01 00:00:00

Bill Jackson introduces air cushions to the U.S.

Bill Jackson introduces air cushions to the U.S.

1970-02-01 00:00:00

In the early 1970s, Gerald Holmes designs and builds Century hydraulic towing equipment

In the early 1970s, Gerald Holmes designs and builds Century hydraulic towing equipment. Century begins producing heavy-duty recovery equipment of the 30- to 40-ton class. Jerry Holmes/Century is credited with the automotive wheel-lift introduced in the mid 70s. In the early 70s, Daniel Reynolds and Gerald Pool form a company to manufacture dump bodies in the Greencastle, Pennsylvania area – Jerr-Dan. A year later, Reynolds sells his interest to Pool. Years later, using rights purchased from Jerr-Dan, Dan starts Danco and begins making car carriers

1972-02-01 00:00:00

Jerr-Dan was formed by J. Pool and D. Reynolds.

The company built EZ-Dumpers and tow trucks. One year later, Jerr-Dan purchased Grove Manufacturing Company’s agricultural industrial product division.

1973-02-01 00:00:00

The Dover Corporation purchases Ernest Holmes Co.

1975-02-01 00:00:00

NRC Industries Inc. forms in Quebec, Canada

Norbert, Raynald and Colette Pigeon design and create a hydraulic under-reach and wheel-lift, among the first such apparatus in North America.

1977-02-01 00:00:00

Jerr-Dan Corporation introduces the first aluminum carrier for commercial use

1977-10-16 10:39:01

American Towman Publishes First Towing Magazine

American Towman, towing’s first magazine, is published by NJ Tower Arnold Polizzi.

1979-12-04 11:00:00

American Wheelift Founded

American Wheelift was founded. The company produced the Eagle wheel-lift, incorporating two claws attached to a boom, which was introduced in 1981. The unit allowed the operator to hook up a vehicle from inside the tow truck cab.

1979-12-04 11:00:00

TRAA Is Formed

24 towing company owners found the Towing & Recovery Association of America (TRAA) in Kansas City, Mo., to act as a national voice for the towing and recovery industry.

1980-12-04 11:00:00

The first TRAA national show

The first TRAA national show is held in St. Petersburg, Florida

1980-12-04 11:00:00

Bill Bottoms began manufacturing a line of hydraulic equipment

In the late 70s, Bill Bottoms began manufacturing a line of hydraulic equipment. In 1980 he brought new Challenger towing units to the TRAA national tow show

1981-06-20 11:11:06

WTRAA Formed

Women of the Towing & Recovery Association of America (WTRAA) forms under the leadership of Ann Malcolm (Albuquerque, N.M.).

1983-06-20 11:11:06

Danco manufactures light farm equipment and car carriers

In 1983, Danco added the manufacturing of rollbacks to its production. Danco’s farm equipment customers were looking for the same durable qualities in a towing vehicle. Design through AutoCAD programming and the utilization of computerized machinery in the manufacturing process produces rollbacks of excellent quality.Along with the variety of models and sizes of rollbacks, Danco added the patented SWIVEL rollback.

1983-08-01 10:28:42

Tow Times Magazine Debuts

Tow Times is a monthly magazine dedicated to helping towing company owners and managers throughout the United States, Canada and around the world run a more successful towing business. Each month, articles address challenges and opportunities facing today’s towing services and offer realistic solutions and strategies to immediately increase profits and streamline operations.

1984-10-15 23:24:55

Friends of Towing was Created to Recognize and Honor Individuals in the Growing Towing and Recovery Industry

1986-10-15 23:24:55

First ITRHF Induction Ceremony

The International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame plans the induction of its first members, Class I, in Fort Worth, Texas. Twenty-seven men from seven countries are inducted including Ernest Holmes Sr. and Ernest Holmes Jr.

1987-06-20 11:11:06

In the late 80s, Ron Nespor opens Chevron Inc. with a full line of towing-recovery equipment.

Chevron Commercial, Inc. was born in 1987 in Highland Illinois, located 30 miles from St. Louis, MO. CCI is a family owned business that from the beginning devoted 100% effort promoting Chevron product. Over the years Chevron factory in Mercer, PA has changed owners a few times until it’s rightful owner; Miller Industries Towing Equipment, Inc. became their final destination.

1987-10-15 23:24:55

The U.S. Post Office introduces the 20s Tow Truck Stamp

The U.S. Post Office introduces the 20s Tow Truck Stamp commemorating the tow truck as an integral part of the U.S. transportation system. Source: TRAA

1990-02-01 00:00:00

Century, Challenger and Holmes are purchased by the Miller Group

1991-04-05 22:24:34

The towing industry training organization WreckMaster is founded

WreckMaster was created to satisfy the Towing Industry’s desire to be recognized as a skilled trade. In order to accomplish this, an independent third party was required. WreckMaster constructed an educational system to work in the interest of the Public and Vehicle Incident Management.

1992-02-01 00:00:00

The First Board of Directors for the International Towing and Recovery Museum was formed

This was the very first step towards the establishment of the Museum and consisted of the Executive Board, Members at Large, and Managing Trustees.

1995-02-01 00:00:00

The International Towing and Recovery Museum is established by Friends of Towing in Chattanooga, Tenn.

In September of 1995 the ITRHFM opened to the public in downtown Chattanooga, TN. In its first permanent structure.

2003-02-01 00:00:00

Museum Moves to Current Location

The International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum relocates to its new home at 3315 Broad Street in Chattanooga.

2006-02-01 00:00:00

The Wall of the Fallen Memorial was added to the outside grounds

The first 94 names of towers who lost their lives in the line of service were added to the wall in 2007. The International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum kicks off its Survivor Fund to coincide with the Wall of the Fallen memorial (to be funded by the Miller Family Foundation and constructed at the museum). In September 2006, the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum officially dedicates the Wall of the Fallen, the industry’s first monument to honor towing operators killed in the line of service.

2007-01-01 00:00:00

Tow Times celebrates its 25th anniversary

2007-02-01 00:00:00

"Slow Down Move Over" Campaign Launched

AAA joins forces with industry voices including TRAA and state towing associations to launch the campaign “Slow Down…Move Over” to encourage laws in all 50 states that ensure motorists exercise due care as they encounter emergency roadside personnel.

2007-02-01 00:00:00

TRAA releases its Roadside Safety Video with the goal of reducing towing operator injuries and fatalities.

TRAA also becomes the first of 22 agencies to vote its support for the National Unified Goal for Traffic Incident Management.

2008-12-01 00:00:00

Television Series "Wrecked" Premiers

The television series Wrecked starring the Gratzianna family from Chicago, Ill., premiers ushering in additional towing-related shows.

2008-12-01 00:00:00

A Federal Highway Administration High-visibility Apparel Rule

A Federal Highway Administration rule requires all workers, including tow truck drivers within the right-of-way of a federal-aid highway who are exposed to traffic vehicles or moving equipment, wear high-visibility apparel compliant with ANSI/ISEA 107-2004.

2012-09-04 00:00:00

TV show Highway Thru Hell debuted on Discovery Channel (Canada)

The TV show Highway Thru Hell debuted on Discovery Channel (Canada) on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 in Canada. Steep hills, lethal drop-offs, killer rockslides, and the worst weather in a decade captivated audiences, with Highway Thru Hell ranking as the #1 series premiere in Discovery Channel Canada's history.

2012-09-04 00:00:00

Tow Professional magazine Debuts

The first copy of Tow Professional magazine made it’s debut in Jan/Feb of 2012, with an issue being released 6 times a year.

2014-02-01 00:00:00

Landoll Corporation Celebrates 50 Years

Landoll Corporation, manufacturer of farming and construction equipment and long-time industry supplier of transport trailers to the towing industry, celebrates 50 years.

2014-12-10 18:24:00

TRAA celebrates 35 years as the National Towing Association

2015-12-01 00:00:00

Idustry Adapts to New Technology

The emergence of a new generation of on-demand, smartphone apps is geared toward the $10 billion roadside assistance industry.

2015-12-01 00:00:00

First Dave Jones Leadership Award Presented

Maryland businesswoman Betty Cornwell receives the first Dave Jones Leadership award for her more than 45 years of service to the industry.

2017-03-01 00:00:00

New Museum Website Debuts

Museum History

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