Serving Our Members Since 1902

First Emergency Roadside Assistance

Early Beginnings

The Automobile Club of St. Louis was founded in April 1902–when AAA was only a month old–and has been one of the leading motor clubs ever since. In its first decade, the Club obtained passage of a state law that ended the requirement for a separate registration fee for each county, overturned the Missouri law that set a statewide speed limit of 8 miles-per-hour, and helped establish the first driving laws and regulations. To help motorists find their way, the Club employed a team of motorcyclists to survey roads in order to create its first state map and even erected many road signs. Beginning in those early years and continuing throughout its history, the Club has championed the fight for good roads, including aiding in the creation of the Missouri State Highway System with dedicated funding from user fees and bonding through its campaign to “Get Missouri out of the Mud.”

The Introduction of Roadside Service

Emergency roadside assistance, a hallmark service throughout AAA, was pioneered by the St. Louis Club in 1915, when five motorcycle-mounted mechanics known as the “First Aid Corps” began patrolling roads on Sundays searching out motorists in need of their skills. The service was so well received that within a few years, the Club began accepting calls from members for roadside assistance rather than just sending out mechanics to look for broken-down automobiles. Word of this popular service spread throughout the AAA federation and other motor clubs adopted it. The Missouri Club expanded this effort a few years later by adding contract towing operations to its portfolio of services.

Introduction of Emergency Roadside Assistance

Tow Contractors

Harry S. Truman

AAA's Growth

After opening regional offices throughout the state, the Club changed its name to the Automobile Club of Missouri (ACMO) in 1921. During the rapid growth of the 1920s, the Club hired a young Harry S. Truman, who excelled as a membership salesman before leaving to pursue military and political careers that culminated in the presidency of the United States. Over the next two decades, ACMO was one of the first AAA clubs to expand beyond the borders of its home state as it absorbed smaller regional clubs, including the Automobile Club of Kansas City, which operated in five counties in Kansas. The St. Clair and Alton motor clubs operated in Illinois.

Continued Expansion and Affiliation

Many years later, ACMO ventured south to merge with AAA Arkansas (1981), and assumed responsibility for the AAA clubs in Louisiana and Mississippi (1997). In 1995, ACMO merged with the Automobile Club of St. Joseph, and then with AAA Southern Indiana in 1999. ACMO became affiliated with the Automobile Club of Southern California in 2006.