The Most Satisfactory Investment for the County Physician Harry P. Engle, M.D. Newton, Iowa

Doctors were among the first to use automobiles for business. In the following, one Iowa doctor describes his expierence with an automobile and impact it made by on his practice.

When I purchased an automobile I had no experience with machinery of any kind, and knew practically nothing concerning the principles of a gas engine.

My three-year experience in a motorcar has been with a single-cylinder, 9-horsepower, water-cooled gasoline machine. I have taken care of it myself. I have averaged over 3,000 miles each year and have found the cost of driving a motorcar to be less than keeping a team (of horses), and the comfort, convenience and pleasure place the automobile so far ahead that I never expect to own another horse. I have driven the machine at all times of the year over all kinds of roads. With the patent chain tire grips for mud and ice and calcium chloride for zero temperature you can always be sure of getting back home.

After driving the car for about six months I sold my horses, but when the roads are very bad I depend on the livery, preferring, as I did when I owned a team, to drive the livery horses over the worst roads. Mrs. Engle is also an automobile enthusiast and handles the car with perfect ease, starting the engine without difficulty, and I feel sure that everything will be all right when she is out driving.

Ninety-five percent of all my trouble has been with the pneumatic tires. A medical friend tells me that he has completely solved the problem by using solid rubber on his machine, and that the solid tires do not (as claimed by the pneumatic people), jar the machine to pieces. I have concluded to try them when in need of new tires.

There is no question about the usefulness of an automobile to a physician. It is so much quicker and can be left standing anywhere without an attendant. I can easily cover twice the ground in a day that a horse can, and in the summer, when the warm weather is hard on a horse, the auto is a great advantage, as both machine and driver are cooler when going fast.

- Journal of the American Medical Association, 1906


  • Margaret Atherton Bonney, Ed., “The Most Satisfactory Investment for the County Physician Harry P. Engle, M.D. Newton, Iowa,” The Goldfinch 4, no. 2 (November 1982): 6.


Why do you think Dr. Engle wrote about his experiences with his car? Are their new technologies that you would want to tell people about?

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