Old Man Of The Mountain Was Once The Most Popular Of New Hampshire Attractions
The Old Man Of The Mountain was a famous face-like rock formation found in the White Mountains of northern New Hampshire USA.
It was in the Franconia Notch State Park close to the Flume Gorge and for many years visiting this site was one of the great "New Hampshire things to do!"
The Famous Old Rock Profile, Sadly No Longer Standing
This unusual rock formation was first noted in 1805 when it was spotted by a surveying team working in the area.
It rapidly gained notoriety and in 1850 a short story, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne and called "The Great Stone Face," used the formation as its inspiration.
It became such a famous feature that in 1945 the state of New Hampshire made it its State Emblem and it can be found on car licence plates and route signs.
It has appeared on a stamp issued on the 21st. of June 1955 - 150 years after it was first spotted - and also more recently on the back of a 25 cent coin, the New Hampshire State Quarter.
The Old Man Of The Mountain was actually made up of five granite ledges on the side of Cannon Mountain which when viewed from the north appeared as a profile with a pronounced chin, nose and mouth.
The profile was 45 feet high and 25 feet wide and stood 1,200 above the waters of Profile Lake at the foot of Cannon Mountain.
The face of The Old Man could be seen from special viewing areas along
Interstate 93 where it passes through the Franconia Notch State Park.
Unfortunately this most popular of N.H. attractions collapsed on the 3rd. of May 2003.
The Coin And Stamp Dedicated To The "Old Man"
For many years freezing and thawing had been opening cracks in the rock forehead of the Old Man. In the 1920`s chains had been used in an attempt to stop these cracks widening.
Then in 1957 over $25,000 was spent on steel rods, turnbuckles and fast drying cement in an effort to create a more permanent repair.
Local people came to have a lot of affection for this rock profile. A New Hampshire state highways employee called Niels Nielsen became the unofficial guardian of the Old Man in 1965.
He spent many hours of his own time protecting it from vandalism and trying to stop any further deterioration from the extremes of weather.
Twenty two years of devotion were rewarded in 1987 when Nielsen was appointed as the official caretaker of the rock by the State of New Hampshire. The family devotion to this edifice was evident when Nielsen retired in 1991 his son David became the guardian in his place.
After the collapse, David Nielsen was quoted as saying "the oldest person in my family just died."
Since the collapse in 2003 there have been a number of ideas to commemorate this unique formation. In June 2010 the Friends of The Old Man Of The Mountain started the first phase of a memorial. It will create a replica profile together with a tribute to the work of the Nielsen family and others who had helped to maintain the structure over the years.
The fact that the profile remains the emblem of New Hampshire will mean that visitors will continue to come to Franconia Notch State Park to see both the Flume Gorge and the site where the Old Man Of The Mountain stood.