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    THERE have been many famous rides in history. Longfellow has celebrated that of Paul Revere. Read has sung of Sheridan's. John Boyle O'Reilly has commemorated in graceful verse the splendid achievement of Collins Graves, who, when the Williamsburg dam in Massachusetts broke, dashed down the valley on horseback in the van of the flood, warning the people and saving countless lives:

"He draws no rein, but he shakes the street
With a shout and a ring of the galloping feet,
And this cry that he flings to the wind:
To the hills for your lives! The flood is behind!"

"In front of the roaring flood is heard
The galloping horse and the warning word.
Thank God! The brave man's life is spared!
From Williamsburg town he nobly dared
To race with the flood and take the road
In front of the terrible swath it mowed.
For miles it thundered and crashed behind,
But he looked ahead with a steadfast mind:
'They must be warned,' was all he said,
As away on his terrible ride he sped."


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Last Updated: 30 Mar 2008
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Lynne Canterbury and Diann Olsen