There Once was an Old Man on the Mountain

The Old Man of the Mountain was a series of five granite cliff ledges on Cannon Mountain in the White Mountains of New Hampshire near the town of Franconia. When viewed from the north, the rock formation appeared to be the jagged profile of a face.

 The first recorded mention of the Old Man was in 1805. It collapsed on May 3, 2003. The first photograph, shot with 35mm film, was taken on October 2, 1998.  On a return visit nine years later, the second photo, digital, was taken on August 28, 2007.

 The profile has been New Hampshire’s state emblem since 1945. It was put on the state’s license plate, state route signs, and on the Statehood Quarter. The writer Nathaniel Hawthorne used the Old Man as inspiration for his short story “The Great Stone Face”, published in 1850, in which he described the formation as “a work of Nature in her mood of majestic playfulness”.

The Old Man collapsed to the ground between midnight and 2a.m., May 3, 2003. The collapse was due to years of weathering even though efforts to protect and preserve the rock formation have been attempted. 

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6 thoughts on “There Once was an Old Man on the Mountain”

  1. Interesting icon! It’s saddening to see it has collapsed! The second photo shows a lot of vegetation from the previous- maybe more moisture contributed to the rocks falling?

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