A Walk to Allentown

(The following by Arthur Kelly resident of Trenton, formerly Allentown, is from the Allentown Messenger dated February 13, 1908.)


The hour hand on the old City Hall clock had nearly reached eleven, the wind was southwest and the sky was almost cloudless and the air was balmy on the last Saturday of the old year when the writer and a companion, tiring of the Christmas gayety, turned southward on Broad street and started afoot for charming old Allentown. To enjoy walking, one must hold the head erect, breathe deeply and keep as much as possible on the ball of the foot. Soon we had passed the great Roebling works and the gloomy old prison walls. In a few moments Riverview [cemetery] was left behind and we were free of the city’s throngs, reveling in the fresh air of the country and the quiet stillness of ourselves.


A stiff pace brought us abreast of the rear of White City – for we are on the canal towpath [Rt. 129] – across Watson’s creek which empties into the Delaware opposite Duck island. In a short time we are at the outlet of the canal and the mouth of the Crosswicks creek. A rest of a few moments and we climb the bluff which forms the northernmost boundary of historic old Bordentown and we were rewarded for our efforts by a charming panorama of the surrounding country, including the magnificent view of the Delaware and Trenton. Turning down the main street we change our course at Crosswicks street and start for Crosswicks. A sharp walk of an hour or so through a fine farming country and a pleasant chat with a youthful member of the Pawnee tribe of Indians and we are in that quiet but beautiful little village, with its great oak tree in the Friend’s church yard, which is worth going miles to see.


Crossing Crosswicks creek at the scene of a conflict in the Revolutionary war and soon to be spanned by a new and modern bridge [replacing a covered bridge] to connect the counties of Mercer and Burlington, we turn sharply to the right and spin along to our destination – Allentown. We spurn the kindly offers of automobile and horse owners of a “lift,” for we are warming to our task and the exhilarating effects of exercise and the fresh air heat the blood and send it tingling through the veins. The brain is cleared and we are in full enjoyment of the glories of nature in her winter garb. Soon we discern the tower of the Allentown water works and next the never-failing country church spire comes into view. In a few moments we are in the town, quiet and serene, away from the whirring trolleys and roaring railroads. A gentle little city upon the hill, whose clean and well-kept houses and streets remind one of dear old New England.


Slowly we climb the hill to the old church founded in 1756 [c.1720] and wend our way through the old graveyard to the shores of the beautiful little lake formed by Negro run. Beautiful to look upon this quiet winter afternoon, we stand and rest by its side and watch the characteristic red farm wagons with well-fed teams unload their stores at the nearby mill. Retracing our steps we cross Doctor’s run and accept the kindly offer of Brother Naylor of the MESSENGER to “When in town, drop in.” A pleasant chat and we are off again to inspect the splendid new bank building with its windows filled with tropical plants, and also the neat little town hostelry. The day is far spent and we turn our face homeward with thirteen miles to our credit and ten more to go. Tired? No, we are just beginning to feel the effects of our outing. Ask the average man who walks ten or twelve in the city unconsciously to do the same thing in the country in his full senses and he will be appalled.


With one more admiring glance at the beautiful Robbins homestead at the corner of the Yardville road, we take one long inhalation, the shoulders fly back with a snap and we are in motion. The sun is nearing the horizon – a great golden ball suffusing the landscape as far as the eye can reach with its reddish tints, and silhouetting the leafless trees until one can imagine the artistic glass of some great cathedral. Lower it sinks and twilight comes apace. Soon the lights appear in the farm house and darkness spreads over the land. Yardville is past at six for we are tearing off the miles at a fast clip. We pause for a moment to admire the silvery waters of Hutchinson’s pond, beautiful in their quiet stillness. Then for White Horse, which is soon behind and we are on the great wide thoroughfare to the city whose myriads of lights are now to be seen.


Passing for a moment at Thropp’s [Cedar?] lane, we bare our brow and gazing upwards into the blue vaulted dome above, studded with the stars whose glorious beauty and fascinating brilliancy have been the wonder and admiration of mankind for all ages, we feel alone in the stilly night with no sound save the quiet breathing of the earth, the charm of being near to nature’s heart. A long breadth and “we hit the trail” again for the last mile and a half. We hum along past Broad Street Park, the old Borough Hall [Chambersburg?], over the canal and up Broad street. The City Hall is reached at seven. Refreshed, invigorated and rejuvenated by our glorious day in the country and charming old Allentown we are soon in the arms of “Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care.”