Formed tens of thousands of years ago by the random shifts of a glacier, and first noticed by a surveying team in 1805, the five cliffs that form the profile of the Old Man of the Mountain quickly became symbol for what it means to be from New Hampshire. In time, the famous profile would appear on the state’s quarter, the state’s highway signs and innumerable tourism brochures becoming one of the state’s biggest draws.
No one described what the formation meant to the state more effectively than statesmen and New Hampshire native Daniel Webster who famously wrote “Men hang out their signs indicative of their respective trades; shoe makers hang out a gigantic shoe; jewelers a monster watch, and the dentist hangs out a gold tooth; but up in the Mountains of New Hampshire, God Almighty has hung out a sign to show that there He makes men.”
In 2003, during a particularly rough storm, the profile collapsed. The next morning, people spontaneously arrived at the site with flowers and mementos that they laid upon the rubble in tribute to the Old Man. It’s hard for people outside the state to know or understand what this strange profile meant to the people of New Hampshire.
Last year, seven years after the collapse, the non-profit group “Friends of The Old Man of The Mountain” broke ground for a new “Old Man of the Mountain Memorial” that is now located along the picturesque Profile Lake just below the previous location of the Old Man.
The first phase has been completed and offers innovative viewing platform with “Steel Profilers”, which, when aligned with the cliff above, re-imagine the Old Man’s profile on the cliff overlooking the Franconia Notch.
Just visiting the park and seeing this first phase helps you to understand the meaning of the Old Man, and how his existence sparks a bit of state loyalty for New Hamphire’s people. But, the later phases will offer even more proof of their love.
According to the literature on site, the second phase will include a “Granite Gateway” with tributes to the many people who helped maintain the profile over the last century as well as a remnant of the turnbuckle tie rod that supported the uppermost ledge. Later, five large “Granite Monoliths” will be lifted in alignment which when viewed from ground level will merge, creating a 20-foot-tall (6.1 m) profile replica of the five ledges that generated the original profile.
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