Today was about as nice as you can expect for late winter around here, so I took advantage of the warmer temps and lack of rain to get out for a long walk around Allaire State Park. The Park preserves the remains of an old iron works and makes for a really nice location for a day out.
Back in the early 1800’s James P. Allaire , a New York iron manufacturer and engine builder, purchased a large track of land here in New Jersey that became known as the Howell Works. The Works were a rich source of bog iron at the time and became a major industrial center in the 1830’s. James Allaire ultimately retired to the Howell Works and spent the remainder of his life in this house.
Bog iron forms in the swamps and bogs found throughout this part of New Jersey and blast furnaces like this one were used to extract the iron that used by Allaire’s factories in New York. This is the only one left in the park and is protected from the weather by the structure built around it.
This area was very isolated in the 1830’s, so the Howell Iron Works had to be a self-sufficent town. Several of the building remain and are used as bakeries, gift shops, or as visitor centers.
The church survives and is still used for weddings and special ceremonies. Notice the steeple is built at the rear of the building – the original building is located at the front. When the church was expanded, the original structure couldn’t support the weight of the steeple, so it was added to the rear of the building.
The iron works needed lots of water and there are several canals like this one – Spring must be on the way. The frogs are already laying eggs in several places throughout the canal!
And another sign of Spring – the skunk cabbages are pushing up everywhere throughout the swamps.