The International Towing and Recovery Museum. I Loved It.

The International Towing and Recovery Museum. I Loved It.

By |2018-08-30T16:23:45+00:00August 30th, 2018|Everything Else, USA|7 Comments

International Towing and Recovery Museum - Andy's Wrecking Service

I saw the sign on the side of the highway as I rolled into the small city of Chattanooga. Two days later, I drove past the sign again. I saw it a third time when I tried to find a gas station the next day.

And each time I saw the sign, I shook my head, admittedly, with some internal laughter at what I thought was a silly, silly idea for a museum.

Today, I stand, or sit, here before you and with a straight face and a renewed appreciation for life’s surprises, I declare that I was wrong.

What seemed like a museum worth ignoring proved to be a museum well worth visiting.

Of none other do I speak than the International Towing and Recovery Museum in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Actually, let’s be official. The full name is the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum.

While I still feel strongly that the full name could use some tweaking, or at the very least, some shortening, I implore you not to let that lengthy and rough title prevent you, as it almost prevented me, from stepping inside the halls of this intriguing shrine.

Pay the $10 entrance fee and feel the texture of your ticket in hand. Chat with the kind fellow at the front desk and watch the 5-minute intro film. At that point, I (almost) guarantee that you’ll be ready and eager to dive deeper into the world of towing and recovery.

You’ll simply walk through the back door of the film room and suddenly you’ll stop in your tracks as you behold the wonders of this industry. You’ll probably say something like, “Holy crap” or “Are you kidding me?” as you look around.

International Towing and Recovery Museum - Lanser Garage

International Towing and Recovery Museum - Dad's

International Towing and Recovery Museum - Ernest Holmes tow truck

While the towing and recovery industry might not be your preferred topic to explore, or in your top 1000 topics of interest, I understand. I think it was #2429 on my own list.

But I will tell you this. I thought it was a very cool museum and well worth the $10. I loved the unique experience. It might not be an industry that many of us spend too much time thinking about but like anything, it does have a history. And that history is full of ideas and impressive innovations, mistakes and experiments, and the occasional absurdities. It’s also full of good people trying to change the world for the better or make our lives easier and safer.

After spending an hour learning the history, examining the various towing and recovery vehicles, admiring the equipment and techniques used over the past 100 years and reminiscing alongside the infinite number of towing-related toys that have shaped the youths of so many…I actually wanted to know more.

By the time I reached the Hall of Fame section at the end, which consists of two hallways filled with photos of ‘outstanding individuals in the towing and recovery industry worldwide’, I wished there was additional information about why each person was recognized. I really did.

So, I’m a changed man. I went from laughing at the sign to welcoming any chance to sit down over a cup of coffee and talk some towing and recovery with anyone who will listen.

International Towing and Recovery Museum - riding a tow truck

If you’re ever passing through Chattanooga, Tennessee and you have an hour to spare, you’ll most likely be pleasantly surprised as well if you spend that hour at the International Towing and Recovery Museum.

Also, you won’t be alone. There were about 8 other visitors inside when I was there. After talking with the man at the front desk, it seems that the museum is far more popular than I ever would have imagined.

Why Chattanooga?

It turns out this city is considered the birthplace of the tow truck. The tow truck was invented in 1916 by Ernest Holmes. He then started the Ernest Holmes Company right there in Chattanooga, and it was the first major tow truck manufacturing operation.

International Towing and Recovery Museum

Website: Towing and Recovery Museum

Interested in some other unique museums? Here’s my posts about The Museum of Broken Relationships and the Best Worst Museum in the World.

WANDERING EARL TRAVEL EMAIL

Sign up for new blog posts, updates from my life of travel and inspiration from around the world. Sent once per week.

7 Comments

  1. Juan Ovalle September 10, 2018 at 3:17 pm - Reply

    This sounds like such a “MAN” museum! Looks like a ton of fun

  2. Markus September 10, 2018 at 7:50 am - Reply

    Hey, this looks like a really great place to explore. Amazing!

  3. steve theis September 4, 2018 at 10:12 am - Reply

    i hope you got to see the top of lookout mountain,, great view and a lot of history in the civil war battlefield.. when i read the historoy of teh moutain i was a bit amazed..

  4. Caroline Eubanks September 3, 2018 at 2:58 pm - Reply

    I can’t believe you’ve been! My sister lives there so I went one day randomly. Chattanooga is a strange place.

    • Derek September 3, 2018 at 2:59 pm - Reply

      Hey Caroline – Yes, definitely an interesting little city but enjoyable for sure!

  5. lisa August 31, 2018 at 3:41 am - Reply

    Hello Derek, I’ve driven by that sign a number of times and chuckled too! The next time i’m in Chattanoga, I’ll make time for a visit.
    Lisa Walborn
    PS-Loved the pic of you in the baby tow truck!

    • Derek August 31, 2018 at 9:39 pm - Reply

      Hey Lisa – Great to hear from you! And yes, please do stop in the next time. It’s worth it…and you’ll get to sit in that baby tow truck too 🙂

Leave A Comment