Elden Dattage has been pulling cars out of ditches for nearly 60 years – Cache Valley Daily

Elden Dattage has been pulling cars out of ditches for nearly 60 years – Cache Valley Daily

Elden Dattage operates one of the bigger tow companies in Utah.

LOGAN – Elden Dattage has been towing cars since 1965. At 76 years old he is still being called away from the dinner table or out of bed to crawl under a car, hook it up and yank it out of a ditch for a troubled driver.

Elden Dattage’s towing business is one of the bigger towing companies in Utah.

“Sunshine, snow, night or day we serve people,” Dattage said. “People wouldn’t call if they didn’t need us.”

There has been more than one dinner left on the table and more than one restaurant with a meal left behind when a Dattage gets the call. Some jobs are slick and easy, then some are hard and take hours.

The Providence native started rescuing troubled drivers some 57 years ago.

“I was looking for a job. I just got out of the National Guard and saw a friend, Lloyd Leonhardt, out on the street and asked him if he knew of any jobs,” Dattage said,  “He told me to go to Wilson Motor Company. They hired me. I didn’t go on a mission or to college, I just went to work reconditioning used cars.”

A few years later, Dattage was asked to help in the body shop. As things works out, he became the manager of the body shop after his predecessor left. In 1983 car dealers were getting rid of their body shops and Wilson Motor followed the trend.

“Clair (Wilson) told me they were going to discontinue the body shop,” he said. “Clair was a wonderful boss. He sold me the equipment and the tow trucks and I went out on my own.”

Dattage found a new location and went to work towing cars and trucks then fixing all their scrapes and bends. The business has grown over the years.

“Today, we have three medium size tow trucks in Cache Valley and we have three rotator wreckers, along with eight big rigs that can tow semi-trucks and trailers in our different lots,” he said. “Our Tremonton lot covers Box Elder County. We have one in Malad that covers Oneida County and I-84 to the Box Elder County line.”

Dattage also has a Montpelier location that covers the Bear Lake area and can go into Wyoming.

The rotator tow trucks have rotating booms that can pick up to 70 tons in a 360-degree span. The trucks are one of the biggest towing rigs on the road today.

“We will go anywhere someone wants us to go as long as someone pays the bill,” he said after towing a semi-truck to St. George the day before. “My two sons Lance and Ryan are pretty much running things now, but I still show up and help with what I can.”

They closed the body shop down two years ago. They just focus on the towing now. His boys enjoyed the towing more than the body work.

“We will sometimes go out for what we think is a 10-minute job and we end up spending 10 and 12 hours,” he said. “July is generally our biggest month because there are more people traveling then and that leads to more breakdowns. January and February are the next busiest months.”

Eldon Dattage hooks up a car he pulled out of a ditch along Hwy 89/91 near Wellsville early on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022.

With nearly six decades of picking up wrecked cars, Dattage has seen a few things he would like to forget.

“Years ago, a trooper would show up with an ambulance or two and the wrecker would have had to pull the doors so they could get to the people,” Dattage said. “Nowadays, the paramedics get there and pull the people from the wreckage and take them to the hospital. I don’t miss doing that one bit.”

Most people are glad to see a wrecker show up to get their car towed. There was a time when Dattage would be called to pick up impounded cars. It was difficult because the tow truck drivers took a lot of the heat.

“I would tell them I had nothing to do with impounding your car,” he said. “The beef is between you and the police.”

Dattage only impounds cars when asked by law enforcement. He won’t do it for private landowners anymore.

“I’ve had a lot of enjoyable experiences over the years,” he said. “And I’ve met a lot of good people and formed some good personable relationships.”

Dattage has people come up and act like they’re old friends because he towed their car once. Sometimes he has a hard time placing them because of the numbers of people he has helped over the years.

Eldon Dattage pulls a vehicle out of a ditch along Hwy 89/91 near Wellsville early on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022.

“My wife won’t let me go shopping anymore because I talk to too many people and she just wants to shop,” he said. “I’ve met so many wonderful people and formed some longtime personal relationships.”

Dattage said Cache Valley is a wonderful place to live and work.

“Cache Valley is a wonderful place to live and have a business,” he said. “I am what I am because of the people who were great examples to me.”