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   Undertoad  Sunday May 4 04:02 PM

5/4/2003: Old Man of the Mountain gone

The news yesterday was incredibly sad to some of us: New Hampshire's "Old Man of the Mountain" fell away overnight.

The Old Man was a rock face in the shape of a man's face, in profile. Alone, that sounds about as interesting as the Virgin Mary "discoveries" that IotD sometimes features. But the Old Man was a little more striking, although you couldn't necessarily tell just by the postcard images:

It's more striking than that because the face was at the top of a cliffside, in a location where people would travel through the mountains as they headed north. If you saw the face from that perspective, it would be a little more interesting. Here's a pic I took when I was last there in fall 2000, that puts a little more perspective on it. And I cropped away another half of hillside, and keep in mind that the Old Man's face is about 40 feet high:

No wonder that early visitors, pre-GameBoy and even pre-television, were amazed to find the face. Daniel Webster once said about it, "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."

The Old Man has a different personal significance to me. My grandparents moved to Franconia, New Hampshire and lived the second half of their lives there, a town of less than a thousand people a few miles from the rock formation.

I feel a deep connection to northern New Hampshire, and northern New Hampshire felt a connection to the Old Man. My mom (Katkeeper) said to me that she was actually glad that the Old Man didn't fall in her father's lifetime.

I thought that was a very striking thing to say. And yet, although I saw the Old Man of the Mountain a few times, it was not all that memorable to me. New Hampshire's mountains are the memorable vision. You look all around and are struck by them. The beauty is everywhere. That's what the tourists should come to see, even if there is no bumper sticker for it.

On the other hand, let them stay at home, and let Franconia stay a town of less than a thousand people.

elSicomoro  Sunday May 4 04:08 PM

From what I heard on the news yesterday, New Hampshire had been trying to save the formation for a century.

I wonder if it's possible to recreate it as a sculpture of sorts, including the fallen rocks as part of it.

Katkeeper  Sunday May 4 04:37 PM

I have read that there are indeed moves afoot to rebuild the "Old Man".

Is he still a symbol if he no longer exists?

Is he a symbol if he is rebuilt and not the natural formation? Will the tourists care??

Can he be rebuilt? If you look below him, there is a gigantic sloping pile of rocks. They had to come from somewhere - like the unstable cliff above. Can this be stabilized to hold another such huge formation? Pretty formidable engineering problems. Call in the "Big Dig" folks.

And by the way, UT, if Franconia remains really small, what about the value of my land?

xoxoxoBruce  Sunday May 4 04:53 PM

In Dan'l Web-stahs day, what we now call scenery was just one damn mountain(tree, stream, bump) after another. Impediments to quick smooth travel. The Boston Post Road, Moly Stark Trail and Mohawk Trail were roads that nobody alive today would attempt without a Hummer. The "Old Man" was something to take pride in. Something that set your town/area/state apart from all the other "one damn mountain......". It made me sad.

OOPS Sorry UT. If I knew your mom was lurking, I would have said darn.

Undertoad  Sunday May 4 05:19 PM

Land value: is probably one of those things too complicated for simple logic.

Saying "darn" in front of mom: well, from a very young age, she taught me that there are no "bad" words, just words that some people prefer you not to say. Since the Cellar is intended for a mentally adult reader, I'm sure she doesn't give a flying fuck what you write, as long as you write it well.

Cam  Sunday May 4 05:55 PM

These things are always dissapointing occurances. I was glad to see that it wasn't vandalism that caused it though. In Montana one of those natural wonders, the eye of the needle, was destroyed by vandals. Sadly I never got to see it in person. It's one thing to vandalize building it's a totally different thing to destroy a natural wonder.

Bitmap  Sunday May 4 06:13 PM

originaly posted by: Katkeeper<br><b>Is he a symbol if he is rebuilt and not the natural formation? Will the tourists care??</b>
I think they will. If tourists drove to NH to look at a formation made By God. Then more people will drive there to see if man will succeed or fail in trying to recreate what God made. If any thing this might be good publicity for the state, and a good memorial to the formation every one knew and loved.
and to the question as to weather he is a symbol or not Look on the tails side of a New Hamshire quarter.

elSicomoro  Sunday May 4 06:22 PM

Originally posted by Bitmap
If tourists drove to NH to look at a formation made By God.
Didn't you know? That was created by the aliens.

xoxoxoBruce  Sunday May 4 06:37 PM

You made it? :p

elSicomoro  Sunday May 4 06:38 PM

Yes...I also created Stonehenge and Cahokia Mounds...shhh!

Undertoad  Sunday May 4 06:58 PM

Cahokia Mounds? What a great porn name!

elSicomoro  Sunday May 4 07:09 PM

Cahokia Mounds is not a porn star

Whit  Sunday May 4 07:36 PM

&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Well it sure outta be!

wolf  Monday May 5 12:41 AM

The falling of the old man is the talk of the pagan community here abouts.

The Native Americans contend that the old man was one of the guardians of the land, and it's especially bad medicine that he's no longer on the job.

Drydock  Monday May 5 02:21 AM

Are you sure it wasn't vandals?

i'm almost sure that the extra weight of that flag hanging off of the top of the feature is what brought it down!
(What flag is that anyway?)

Beletseri  Monday May 5 08:25 AM

The top photo shows what is left?

If so, it still looks like a man's to me only it is reclining back a bit in rest.

Bitmap  Monday May 5 09:27 AM

I was actualy just thinking that! but the face is no longer sticking out of the mountain it's just leaning back and yelling.

<img src="">

Katkeeper  Monday May 5 11:15 AM

Which supports the Native Americans. He is howling in pain for the havoc we have wrecked upon the environment.

tjennings  Monday May 5 11:43 AM

I can't see any human form to it at this point. Looks more like a bird head to me. The eye is still the eye, the mouth (in the above picture) is under the chin (do birds have chins?), and the nose makes quite an admirable beak. If the beak were a bit sharper, it would look somewhat like a woodpecker and could be called the giant pecker of the mountain.

e unibus plurum  Monday May 5 02:18 PM

I consider myself fortunate to have seen the 'Old Man' just last year -- very near to where my own old man came from.

Unfortunately, even out here in Kansas
erosion happens...

Elspode  Tuesday May 6 12:04 AM

Fascinating web site, it yours?

doc  Tuesday May 6 12:58 PM

He's not gone, he just retired to Florida <img src="">

xoxoxoBruce  Tuesday May 6 04:56 PM

Cool, Doc. Thanks

Your reply here?

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