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A New Face On An Old Man

Jun 22, 2023 12:59PM ● By Virginia Dean
Twenty years ago, in the middle of the night, the Old Man of the Mountain collapsed. The New Hampshire public mourned but agreed that rebuilding the cliff would be too difficult and unstable to safely support construction.

Nobody knew how old the Old Man of the Mountain was when it fell, but according to New Hampshire history, the first recording of the craggy rock was at the turn of the 19th century as part of Franconia surveying crew. The protruding ledges that composed the profile were allegedly not there when glacial ice flowed south through Franconia Notch two million years ago. Geologists believe it materialized around 12,000 years ago when water freezing and thawing in cracks of the then-exposed walls of Franconia Notch split off pieces of the granite. Chance removal of the right pieces produced a set of five ledges that, when viewed from just the right angle, had a likeness to a man’s profile.

Now, with the widespread agreement that rebuilding on the cliff is not appropriate, a new nonprofit organization, the Old Man of the Mountain Legacy Fund, has stepped forward to create a privately funded monument to the popular state symbol. 

The organization grew out of the task force appointed by Governor Sununu in partnership with the New Hampshire Division of Parks & Recreation to provide a “lasting legacy of remembrance” for the Old Man of the Mountain. The fund’s primary focus is to create a permanent memorial based on the design of Ron Magers and Shelly Bradbury. It includes the Old Man of the Mountain Profiler Plaza featuring 1,000 paver stones engraved with the names and memories of friends of the Old Man and Franconia Notch along with seven profilers that allow visitors to see the famous profile on the mountain once again. The Legacy Fund maintains an exhibit at Cannon Mountain’s Tramway building and at the start of the path leading to the Profiler Plaza. Visitors can follow the scenic pathway to Profile Lake and the new Old Man of the Mountain Profiler Plaza.

For further information about the Old Man of the Mountain, visit


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