This past Saturday I met my friend Allen at Alliare State Park near Freehold, NJ, for a hike. Allaire is a park like many in Pennsylvania, built around the remnants of the early days of the industrial era. James P. Allaire was a mechanic and inventor, and made his fortune in iron, establishing an iron works at the site of the present-day park.
Aside from the preserved furnace stack, many of the buildings from the town around the iron works are intact, and this historic village is a highlight of the park. I enjoyed the hike with Allen, one of the few people who matches my walking pace, but the Halloween decorating of the buildings struck me as both tacky and out of period. I don’t doubt that the original residents would have decorated for All Hallow’s Eve, but they’d not have put a giant inflatable rat on the roof either.
The two of us put in about a mile and a half of walking through the town and on a couple of nearby trails. After a stop at the visitor’s center, housed in row-homes built by Allaire for his workers, we took the Pine Creek Railroad ride through the park. The Pine Creek Railroad is run by the New Jersey Transportation Museum, and is a simple mile loop through the park. Yes, its short, but what boy doesn’t love a train? I’d missed my chance to ride a scenic railroad in Cuyahoga Valley National Park earlier this year, and the Pine Creek Railroad made up for it in a small way.