“With the Haul of Fame we hope to bring this history to life and preserve it for generations to come.”
Chattanooga's fast-growing trucking industry is getting a museum of its own.
Called the trucking Haul of Fame, the museum and archive library dedicated to the industry's history will open downtown early next year, said Craig Fuller, chief executive officer of Chattanooga startup FreightWaves.
Fuller said the museum will open in April in 10,500 square feet of space connected to the new 412 Market St. headquarters of FreightWaves, which focuses on transportation and logistics data and content.
He said the museum will revolve around trucking entrepreneurs and companies, unlike other facilities nationally which tend to highlight vehicles.
"We thought it would be cool to have something for trucking," the FreightWaves CEO said.
Located in a renovated building that formerly held the World of Beer, the downtown site will include event space dubbed Freight Alley, die-cast, model trucks featuring past and present companies, and videos, photographs and other collections, Fuller said.
A truck-driving simulator donated by Chattanooga-based trucking company U.S. Xpress also will be on hand, he said. In addition, the museum will have a strong online presence, Fuller said.
The museum, free to the public, should have regional and national appeal to people in and outside the industry, he said.
"For research, it will be a good living archive of the U.S. trucking industry," Fuller said.
John Bowes, a FreightWaves executive vice president, said part of the museum will hold glass cases with the model trucks reflecting the trucking history.
"There will be thousands of model die-casts," he said.
Morgan Gray, FreightWaves curator and resident historian, is seeking the help of the trucking community at large to locate the die-casts.
"We are asking those in the industry to send us spare die-cast trucks that might be lying around offices, warehouses or homes from companies past, present and future," she said, adding that the models can showcase their businesses.
Gray said that for each unique model truck, a $50 donation will be made to the American Logistics Aid Network to help its disaster relief logistics efforts during catastrophic events such as Hurricane Florence and the fires in California.
"Our goal is to raise $50,000 for the organization, so we are looking for 1,000 new pieces to add to our collection," she said.
Fuller said the museum idea came from looking at the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum located in Chattanooga on South Broad Street. That industry started in the city in the early 1900s.
Fuller said that when he was a boy, he would listen to stories about the industry from his father Max, who co-founded U.S. Xpress, and his grandfather Clyde, an industry pioneer who ran Southwest Motor Freight.
"These 'war stories' helped to shape my understanding of the trucking industry and laid the foundation for an appreciation of the colorful shaping of our industry. With the Haul of Fame we hope to bring this history to life and preserve it for generations to come," he said.
FreightWaves in October revealed a major expansion with plans to create 260 new jobs. The company is slated to invest $3.9 million, including a shift of its operations from Chestnut Street to the new work space downtown on Market Street.
With about 75 jobs now, FreightWaves employees plan to occupy the second level of the Market building, Fuller said.
While South Broad has the tow-truck facility, the Charles H. Coolidge Medal of Honor Heritage Center is planned downtown near the Tennessee Aquarium.
Contact Mike Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.