A History of the Tow Truck

Often times, we take for granted the things that have made our lives more convenient in this modern day and age. When thinking about these things, we often look back to the story of the origins of the tow truck, and how it came to be truly revolutionary idea in the age of the automobile.

The story began in 1916, when while headed home, a driver lost control of his Ford Model T automobile, driving it into a creek bed at Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Service station owner Ernest Holmes Sr. caught wind of the terrible news, and along with a troop of six men, spent the the better half of a day working to save and recover the car. They were finally able to recover the car, which in turn would spark an idea within Holmes.

Learning from this experience, Holmes Sr. thought there must be another, more efficient way to recover a broken-down vehicle. With this thought, he enlisted the help of his friends, L.C. Decker and Elmer Gross to build a vehicle that could lift other vehicles – a tow truck. Back at his service station, he equipped a three-year-old automobile, that was pretty sturdy and stout to begin with, with a crane and pulley system that would lift wrecked vehicles and could tow them back to a nearby mechanic’s station. They refined the idea further by adding a pair of outriggers to provide stability while holding other vehicles. Ernest Holmes ended up filing a patent for his idea (US Patent 1254804) in November 1917.


Holmes' wrecker


The story doesn’t stop there, though. Once he acquired his patent, Holmes decided to focus his business on building his very own line of Holmes Wrecker tow trucks which he would then sell to other mechanics and garage operators. With that said, Holmes became a rather prodigal inventor, who patented many improvements on the general tow truck theme as well as at least another half-dozen vehicle lifts, creepers, and jacks before he passed away in 1945.

The history of the tow truck is a tale of hard work and innovation and reminds us to not take for granted the convenience we have today. You shouldn’t resort to having you and your family toil and sweat to push your broken-down vehicle back home or to a shop; call us at Will Tow. We’re the go-to Central Texas towing agency, here to serve you. Eat. Sleep. Tow. That’s our motto, and we mean it! Give us a call today at 512 – 738 – 5748 to discuss prices.

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