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Towing-orlando2In today’s times, tow trucks are drowned with technology. Automated winches with remotes, compact and bright LED lights, and strong yet economic engines seem to be the “norm”. There is no question that today’s tow trucks are an innovative piece of machinery.  As you can imagine, it wasn’t always like that. There was no hydraulic beds or remote controlled winches when the first tow truck in the USA hit the road.

 

In 1916, an unfortunate man survived a rollover accident in his Model T Ford in Chattanooga, Tennessee. John Wiley, as he was known, was ok but needed help with his now- wrecked car. Wiley got a hold of his good friend, Ernest Holmes Sr. who owned a repair garage at the time. Holmes had no idea how he was going to help this mangled old Ford but he knew he was going to help. Holmes owned a 1913 Cadillac. A piece of luxury for its time that was quite expensive. He started hacking away at this high end Caddy and implemented what is known as the first tow truck. This primitive approach used a pulley, an iron chain, and various poles to transport wrecked or disabled vehicles to his garage.

 

Orlando Towing imageAfter taking care of  his friend, John Wiley and the  Model T, Holmes was obsessed with making his great idea, even greater. He spent two years of planning with trial and error which landed him onto a solid and concrete idea which he filed his first patent for on January 17, 1918. He had no idea how large his idea would impact the industry of automobiles throughout the country and eventually, the world.

 

Ernest came up with the “twin-boom” design for wreckers that turned out to be wildly popular in the industry. This popularity formed the “Ernest Holmes Co.” that had the sole purpose of manufacturing and marketing tow trucks in 1919. He pioneered and flourished for years after. Even through the Great Depression, Holmes kept chugging along by supplying thousands of tow trucks to the U.S. military from 1941 to 1945 which was the year of his unfortunate and unexpected death.

 

Even though the original towing pioneer was gone, the family name lived on. Holmes’ grandson, Jerry Holmes, took over the industry by inventing the first hydraulic setup on a tow truck and history was made again with the birth of Century Wrecker Co; a well-known and still used name in the towing  and recovery business over 45 years after its first use.

 

In today’s times, the Holmes and Century name still live on. In 1989, Miller Industries purchased the entire company. Miller Industries is now the world’s largest manufacturer of towing and recovery equipment. The parent company may be different but the next time you look at a tow truck, see if it’s a Century brand or even a Holmes. It may very well be part of what America’s first “hooker” started from the ground up with a 1913 Cadillac and some iron chain.

13 Comments

  1. Justin on September 11, 2020 at 6:54 pm

    Hello there, thanks for sharing such a wonderful article and I feel so happy getting to see something I can learn from the internet today and not just something common but It goes back in history and that is really good. I never knew that I could see such on here and I’ll love to come back for more. 

  2. Maria Hardy on September 12, 2020 at 11:32 pm

    I barely remember the old tow truck systems but yes, the technology today is incredible for towing a car. Usually big ideas start small such what happened to Holmes and Wiley. What an amazing story. The next time I see a tow truck, I will make sure to check if it is a Century or even Holmes brand. 

    Many people have ideas but few make them happen. I have to add that John Wiley and Ernest Holmes must have spent a lot of time to come up with a final product. 

  3. Bruce on September 14, 2020 at 3:50 am

    It’s very true that the technology today is very sophisticated an it’s advancing a lot of things in our world and I can barely remember what a tow truck looks like I’m the very olden days, I like the way everything is made very easy and reliable now. It’s very nice to read through this article

  4. Suz on September 15, 2020 at 11:03 am

    What an interesting article and a great topic ti write about. I didn’t know that there is quite a history to the use of towing trucks and how they are made too. I find it funny that you decided to use this name for the title of this post though. Lol. Awlays a good thing for me to learn something new.

    • admin on September 15, 2020 at 4:36 pm

      The title does catch your attention and gets you thinking something different. 

  5. Beesean on September 16, 2020 at 10:30 pm

    Tow trucks have been really helpful vehicles that have helped a lot of people in one bind or another. Reading about the history of the first hooked was really intriguing and captivating. Your article was expertly written and I found myself completely enraptured with it from the beginning to the end. Thank you for sharing this article. 

  6. Ezra Mtambeka on September 18, 2020 at 2:48 am

    Great wordplay with the title. Nice article. One can be so fascinated about how some inventions came to light. I have always wondered how a tow truck came about. It’s true that nowadays engines play a major role in tow trucks esp[ecially when in an environment with extreme snow conditions. 

  7. Nath on September 19, 2020 at 7:02 am

    Though I never got to see the earlier hookers and tow trucks being that I’m a 90s born. However, this is really interesting to read about here and evaluate in all. I surely aplreaciate all of these that you share here. They make for a very interesting read out here. Thumbs up to you for sharing

  8. Bogadi on September 20, 2020 at 11:48 am

    Thank you for this beautiful history of tow trucks, I have never really asked myself questions  like who is the inventor how did the idea come about. Im glad I came across your article. It is also inspiring in a way., learning that from such an unfortunate circumstances this powerful concept was born. It is amazing.

  9. moonmount on September 21, 2020 at 11:22 pm

    This was a very interesting review and history of the Tow Truck and the title attracts the necessary attention to bring people to read the article. I really had no idea about this history and technology as it has developed over the years. It was very fascinating to learn how these companies approached these issues to develop the tow truck. I would never have guessed what was done to bring the modern tow truck into a sophicated product. This was a great article.

  10. surya on September 23, 2020 at 3:44 am

    That was a really fun article to read. This is my first time reading about the history of tow trucks, I have hated history but the way you made the article simple to read, made me like it so much. Next time I see a tow truck I ould definitely look for the Holmes logo or the name. Keep posting more articles like these

  11. trudnocairoditeljstvo on September 24, 2020 at 7:52 am

    It’s amazing how time flies and everything changes. Cars, trucks, technology, everything are advancing at the speed of light. I’m a little nostalgic when I read about the past. Some like me still prefer how the world used to work. Beautiful text that is very informative and high quality. Lots of greetings and support from me.

  12. Anthony Beatrice on September 25, 2020 at 1:28 pm

    This post is about the first “hooker”, meaning, of course, a tow truck, lol.  I didn’t realize that the tow truck business began over a 100 years ago.  Kind of sad that they sold to the big box company in 1989.  I hope they got a lot of money from it.  Anybody that did ok at the time of the Great Depression, had to be innovative and different to keep everything in the black.  I learned something new today, which was cool.

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