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International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum

International Towing Museum, TN
The International Towing & Recovery Hall Of Fame and Museum features restored antique wreckers and equipment from the tow truck industry. The … See more


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Jan 8, 2023
This spot was my husband's choice and I was surprisingly delighted. It is clean and well thought out. It has a memorial outside and indoors is a lovely gift shop, walk way of fame for school attende… Full review by c27balstro
Jun 12, 2022
This was an unexpected high point of our visit to Chattanooga. The staff are extremely friendly and helpful, the collection of vehicles and equipment is great, and it is a budget-friendly afternoon. … Full review by giants72
May 23, 2022
This was the one place in Chattanooga that surprised me. I honestly didn't know if I would like it or not but I loved it! This takes you through the history of the tow truck from how it got started t… Full review by melwashere81


The History of Towing and Vehicle Recovery
Just when you think you’ve seen a museum dedicated to everything under the sun, you stumble across the International Towing and Recovery Museum which devotes itself to celebrating the history of towing and vehicle recovery including the technology involved and those that who have died in the quest to clear roads and save lives. According to the museum, it was in 1916 that the first tow truck was invented in the city of Chatanooga, Tennessee, and it was this American innovation that sparked an entire industry of vehicle recovery that has only grown and evolved to today. Starting as a traveling exhibition in the 1980’s the collection displayed trucks, artifacts, and exhibits about the history of towing. Then in 1995, the official museum opened right in the heart of Chattanooga, where it all began. Today the collection has grown, and was moved to the larger space of its current home in 2006. Restored antique salvage trucks and cranes are arrayed across the show floor accented by exhibits featuring artifacts and ephemera from the proud industry’s history. The most arresting of the displays, the Wall of the Fallen, was installed outside the museum in 2006. The memorial honors those who lost their lives in the service of recovery. It features a name wall not unlike a military memorial, which surrounds a small pool out of which juts a bronze statue showing a man pulling a dangling man from the water. A single automobile taillight juts from the water as though sinking beneath the waves. Most people get pretty upset when their car gets towed, but maybe a visit to the Towing Museum could get them to rethink the human cost of removing a vehicle.
Fun, Positive, and Nostalgic
It all started more than 20 years ago when a group of dedicated towing professionals, the Friends of Towing, decided to recognize outstanding individuals in the towing and recovery industry worldwide, record the industry’s history, collect and display artifacts and memorabilia in a museum setting, and provide information about the industry to the public. The first Hall of Fame class consisted of 27 members and today has grown to include over 300 distinguished towing professionals. In its humble beginnings, the Friends of Towing displayed the Hall of Fame and Museum in a semi-trailer and drove it to and from towing and recovery industry trade shows across the country. In 1995 when it came time to settle down in one permanent location, the organization decided on the scenic city of Chattanooga, TN. Chattanooga had been credited as the birthplace of the tow truck thanks to inventor Ernest Holmes Sr. Holmes and his son Ernest Holmes Jr. would go on to establish a major towing manufacturer named the Ernest Holmes Company. Today, the museum has evolved from the humble Friends of Towing into the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum. In 2006, the museum dedicated a Memorial, The Wall of the Fallen, in honor of men and women who had lost their lives in the line of service. In 2007, at the first Wall of the Fallen dedication service, 94 names where added. Since its establishment, the names of towing operators who have lost their lives are added to the wall during a special ceremony in September. The International Towing Museum is the only place in the world that offers a close encounter with a tow truck that is actually fun, positive, and nostalgic.

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Data from: Wikipedia · TripAdvisor
Wikipedia text under CC-BY-SA license