The Toe Truck: A Quirky Attraction in Seattle

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View of the pink toe truck at The Museum of History and Industry
Source: Alan Berner / The Seattle Times

Seattle, Washington, is known for the Space Needle, coffee, and quirky attractions. This Pacific Northwest city has a vibrant arts scene; nothing expresses this culture more than a pink toe truck.

Yes, that’s spelled correctly. It’s a pink t-o-e truck. No matter where you go, you’ll find unique attractions where people stop for selfies and smiles.

Let’s dive into the story behind this unique creation and where you can see it today!

What Is the Toe Truck in Seattle?

The famous Lincoln Towing’s Pink Toe Truck is a piece of Seattle history. This bubblegum-colored truck is shaped like a right foot, with the heel at the front wheels and the toes above the truck cab.

The truck’s cab sits inside the foot while the rear is an open truck bed. A windshield faces out from underneath the foot as it stands upright. On top, it has five toes curled over, showing white toenails.

What’s the Story Behind the Pink Toe Truck?

Ed Lincoln, the original owner of Lincoln Towing, said he got the idea from a salesman who mentioned seeing a tow truck with actual toes. 

Thinking this was comical, Lincoln looked through his cars slated for an abandoned vehicle auction. When he saw a Volkswagen Bus, he decided that it would make a great base for his toe truck idea.

Lincoln hired Ed Ellison, a local retired body shop owner, to build the vehicle. He used chicken wire and fiberglass to shape the foot. He then mounted lights inside the toes for safe driving at night. 

At the top of the big toe, the finished bubblegum pink toe truck stood 11 feet tall. In July 1980, the Lincoln Towing Pink Toe Truck made its debut in a local parade in Seattle.

Was the Pink Toe Truck Ever Used as a Tow Truck?

The Toe Truck did have a towing wrench, but the owners never used it as a tow truck. This wasn’t Lincoln’s intent. Instead, it became an advertising symbol for Lincoln Towing.

It would be driven in parades, taken to local charity events, and eventually, put on display on the roof of the Lincoln Towing building.

Where Can You See the Toe Truck?

When Lincoln retired, he took the bubblegum-colored Toe Truck with him. He restored the truck and donated it to the Museum of History and Industry. 

In 2005, a celebratory parade was held just for the Lincoln Towing Pink Toe Truck as it took one last journey to the museum. Mr. Lincoln drove it with his wife as the passenger.

Numerous other tow trucks from the Seattle area joined while two policemen led the line. Now it sits in the museum at 860 Terry Ave North in Seattle. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

What Is the Museum of History and Industry?

The Museum of History and Industry aims to preserve artifacts and stories of the Puget Sound region. The museum also highlights innovation and imagination through exhibits, programs, and events. 

Past exhibits include an exploration of artificial intelligence, the innovative photography of Ansel Adams, and the inventions of Leonardo Da Vinci.

Adult tickets cost $22, student and military tickets cost $17, and senior tickets cost $18. Children aged 14 and under get into the museum for free. 

The Museum of History and Industry also has its own membership program where you can get unlimited free admission for one year plus other benefits. The varying levels include an individual membership for $60 up to an innovator membership for $500.

Other Quirky Attractions in Seattle

While seeing the Pink Toe Truck in the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle, you can find other quirky attractions to visit.

Most of them only require a quick drive where you can take a selfie and then hit the road again.

1. World Famous Giant Shoe Museum

The World Famous Giant Shoe Museum is about a 10-minute drive from the Museum of History and Industry, where you can find the iconic Toe Truck.

Danny Eskenazi became fascinated with colossal shoes and started collecting them. He even got his hands on a shoe worn by Robert Wadlow, the World’s Tallest Man.

For a quarter, visitors can step up to the stereoscopic-style viewing pieces and gaze at a collection of shoes that are probably the largest they’ve ever seen. So head over to Pike Place Market after viewing the pink Toe Truck for even more unique fun.

Pro Tip: On your next roadtrip, use the Roadside America App to find more unique and quirky attractions!

2. Magnuson Park Fin Art

Magnuson Park, located about 20 minutes from the Museum of History and Industry, is home to a collection of old submarine parts converted into fins. 

The large grassy field looks like an ocean teeming with killer whales as the black fins rise up from the ground. The decommissioned submarine wings used for the fin art weighed 10,000 pounds each.

3. Fremont Bridge

The Fremont Bridge is the most opened drawbridge in the United States. Built in 1917, the bridge connects the neighborhoods of Fremont and Queen Anne.

Because the clearance is only about 30 feet, the bridge has to open almost every time a boat passes, which equates to about 35 times a day. 

Even though this creates long wait times for drivers, the community has embraced the bridge. In the 1980s, they painted it blue and turned it into a work of art.

A neon Rapunzel sits in one of the control towers while a neon elephant and crocodile reside on the other side. Drive over this bridge when you visit Seattle and the Pink Toe Truck.

View of the Fremont bridge in Seattle

4. Piece of the Berlin Wall at Cafe Turko

You may not think a piece of the Berlin Wall belongs in Seattle, but in front of a Turkish cafe, you’ll see a huge concrete chunk that was once a piece of German history. It stands 6 feet by 12 feet tall. The local “History House” museum donated it to the cafe when it closed. 

Although you can drive by and see the concrete any time, visit during cafe hours and grab a Döner Kebab pocket sandwich or a Beyti Kebab. Cafe Turko is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

5. Fremont Troll

Finally, located less than 3 miles from the Museum of History and Industry is the famous Fremont Troll. The 18-foot concrete troll sits underneath the George Washington Memorial Bridge. 

In its left hand, it clutches a real Volkswagon Beetle. Steve Badanes, Will Martin, Ross Whitehead, and Donna Walter sculpted the troll in 1990 for a Fremont Arts Council competition, which it won. 

Parking is tight as the troll is located at the end of a street, but it’s worth a drive and selfie to add to your collection of quirky attractions in Seattle.

Read More: So what’s the story behind the Fremont Troll? Let’s find out!

A Toe Truck, a Troll, and More Unique Attractions in Seattle, WA

Seattle isn’t short of unique attractions. Once you’ve explored the Museum of History and Industry and seen the iconic Lincoln Towing Pink Toe Truck, view other fun attractions, from a giant shoe collection to submarine fins. You won’t be disappointed in the imagination of the Seattle locals!

Is there another quirky Seattle attraction you’d suggest people visit?

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