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Stop 2: Horse-Drawn Ambulance

After the Civil War, non-military hospitals started using horse-drawn ambulance services for their patients.

In 1873 the MGH purchased a one-horse ambulance
“to be kept in readiness for prompt service on call…in sending for physicians and patients.”

Its duties included picking up non-contagious patients and fetching doctors out of bed at night for emergencies. For many years a docile animal known affectionately as “Old White Horse” pulled the ambulance. It was said that at night physicians could hear the clumping of his heavy hooves on Beacon Hill cobblestones from many blocks away.

The hospital acquired this ambulance in 1888 to replace the original 1873 model. It was replaced in turn by electric, steam, and eventually gasoline-driven ambulances.