Oklahoma City may boast about being home of the world’s first parking meter, but it was my hometown of Chattanooga, Tenn., that gave birth to the tow truck. I didn’t know this tidbit of information before visiting the International Towing and Recovery Museum on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The museum was a pleasant surprise with lots of antique tow vehicles and other unique tow vehicles including the “World’s Fastest Wrecker” and an actual military wrecker that marched alongside Patton’s advance on Germany.
Towing goes hand-in-hand with most parking operations and typically is associated with a negative experience or connotation. It’s easy to yell at a tow truck driver or tow yard employee (remember ESPN’s Britt McHenry) who has towed your vehicle, but that might change for a visitor to the Towing Memorial in the front of the museum which recognizes hundreds of towing professionals who lost their lives on the job helping others. A short section of the museum also remembers the tow drivers who worked round the clock during 9/11 to clear debris and vehicles helping rescue workers at Ground Zero.
The museum also had a lot of kid-friendly tow trucks along with several replicas of the most famous children’s tow truck celebrity: Mater from Pixar’s “Cars” movie. I love visiting unique or quirky museums when I travel and this was no exception. But most importantly, this may have inspired me to start the first ever International Parking Museum. If there’s a museum for barbed wire and a museum for toilets, why can’t there be one for parking.