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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."

-Daniel Webster

The Old Man of the Mountain, a natural rock formation which looked like the profile of a stern and solemn old man when viewed from the proper angle, is history. The 25 by 40 foot formation collapsed and fell down the side of its mountain on May 3, 2003 (or thereabouts - it was foggy, so nobody actually saw it happen).

The Old Man was also known as "The Great Stone Face," or simply "The Profile." He was formed from red granite, not an uncommon stone in New Hampshire (nicknamed "the Granite State"). Five ledges protruded from the side of Cannon Mountain in Franconia Notch to form the illusion. He was formed by ice, in the form of glaciers and of smaller bits of ice expanding and then melting in crevices over many years. His profile is thought to have been completed somewhere between 2,000 and 10,000 years ago.

The Old Man's perch on the side of his mountain has always been precarious at best. Over the last 40 years, attempts have been made to secure the ledges with steel cables, turnbuckles, and epoxy. If you missed seeing the face in person, you can still see representations of it everywhere in New Hampshire. Just look closely at the license plates. It also appears on the New Hampshire Quarter.

Craig Benson, the governor of the state of New Hampshire, has assembled a task force to investigate the possibility of resurrecting the state's symbol. "We will look at everything possible, see what's practical, and then what's tasteful," he said. There are some who argue that the very idea of replacing the Old Man is distasteful, but the White Mountain area is dependent on tourists for much of its income, and the Old Man was a major tourist attraction. It'll be interesting to watch them trying to reach a consensus.

mblase sent me a message demanding ascii art, but I'm afraid this subject is beyond my pitiful abilities as an ascii artist. Sorry. You can find several good pictures at http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/whites/old_man.html.


Sources:
mutha.com/oldmanmt.html
www.cs.dartmouth.edu/whites/old_man.html
www.nhparks.state.nh.us/ParksPages/franconianotch/oldmanhistory.html
www.state.nh.us/governor/pr05_03_03man.html
www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A10379-2003May3.html