History of Towing and Tow Trucks

brown tow truck

Ancient giant tow truck, sans engine bonnet, spotted on Piedmont Ave. by Amy Gahran under commercial use license

 

Having readily available towing services in your area is perhaps one of the most reassuring safety net for everyone who owns a vehicle in Naperville. If you ever get in trouble in the middle of nowhere, it’s comforting to know that you can always just call the closest tow truck company from your location for some emergency road assistance and expect them to arrive in a matter of, say, hours or even minutes. Without these tow trucking services, can you imagine how you can get yourself unstuck from unfavorable road situations?

It’s such a lifesaving breakthrough, so isn’t it at least worth to note just how it all started?

What is the history of towing and tow trucks?

Well, back in the day, people didn’t have all the tow equipment that’s as readily available to us now. They would simply push or pull a broken-down vehicle by themselves, or perhaps with the aid of acquaintances, as well as of animals capable of such a task. But most of the time, this sort of situation involves snow or mud, or being inconveniently stuck hundreds of miles away from the city, and not everyone is capable of bringing — or rather, dragging — their cars back home this way — especially the heavier ones. This means that back then, most people simply resorted to abandoning their cars right where they had stopped working.

Imagine what the roads of Naperville would look like if that still continued on until now.

It was the same situation when mechanic Ernest Holmes Sr. received a request to retrieve a Ford Model T from a creek in 1916. Now, this car was special not only for obvious reasons but also for the fact that it was owned by Holmes’ former professor. Aside from Holmes, the recovery team was comprised of a huge group of men (some say 6, some claim there were 8, and some say it’s 10). And aside from the crew, it took lots of wood, bricks, rope, and tons of hours just to get the vehicle out of the water.

This painful process was what led him to think if there could somehow be an easier way. 

What happened next?

Holmes proceeded to work on finding a way to automate the process of recovering vehicles. After a failed prototype, lots of money, and lots of time, he finally came up with the very first “wrecker” or tow truck, Holmes 485, in 1919.

The invention quickly paid off, and after that, a new model would emerge after every few years, with additional tow truck equipment incorporated into it such as hook and chain or pulley systems.

How did tow trucks evolve?

The first-ever tow truck, Holmes 485, was instantly worth what’s similar to a few million dollars today. However, despite having a steam-powered engine, it was still too small to be able to pull the bigger types of vehicles. 

So, Ernest Holmes, Sr. went on to develop Holmes W70, which is still considered the largest tow truck to date. This model is able to lift and pull loads up to 70 tons without damaging the vehicle, making it among the most heavy-duty tow trucks out there.

But the evolution of tow trucks revolved more around trying to compress the tow accessories of a truck and making the units both smaller and more heavy-duty. It’s similar to how computers and other electronics have developed through the years, becoming more advanced and more compact at the same time. Nowadays, the most common types of tow trucks such as wheel lifts, flatbeds, and integrated trucks are revamped with hydraulics, boom lifts, and other modern equipment to make the wreckers more versatile, and tow trucking services easier for everyone.

Kit’s Towing

So this is the innovation that every car owner in Naperville should perhaps be thankful for. Because of this piece of tow truck history, we at Kits Towing are able to provide you with the best roadside assistance anytime you need a tow truck rescue. We provide all sorts of emergency tow truck services from flat tire assistance to lockout service to jump-starting your car to everything in between, and trust that we’re always at the ready 24 hours a day to help you out of a problematic road situation. As a towing company, we have one of the best customer services and one of the largest fleets of recovery trucks in this region of Illinois. So if you’re ever in need of assistance, just call 630-369-3225 and rest assured that we’ll arrive soon.