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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Franconia in Grafton County, New Hampshire — The American Northeast (New England)
 

The Old Man of the Mountain

 
 
The Old Man of the Mountain Marker image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, September 2008
1. The Old Man of the Mountain Marker
Inscription. The rock profile you see 1200 feet above this spot had its beginning some 25,000 years ago during the great ice age. As the glacier moved southward the cliff began to take the shape you see today. As the ice age came to a close and the glacier retreated, frost, wind and rain caused the rocks that make up the face to take on a human form. The profile is made up of five ledges, three are anchored deep in the cliff and support the two above, and measures 40 feet from chin to forehead. Only from this angle does the arrangement of the stones appear as a man’s face.

If the Indians of the region worshipped this natural wonder they left no legends about it. The first white men, explorers then settlers, who traveled through this valley did not report seeing it. It was not until 1805 that two men, Luke Brooks and Francis Whitcomb, surveying in the Notch, came to this spot for water. looking up Brooks saw the face of a man above the lake. “Its (sic) Jefferson”, he cried. America’s President being Thomas Jefferson at the time.

Word of the profile was slow in reaching the outside world until 1825 when a letter from General Martin Field was published in the American Journal of Science. It was, however, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s beautiful tale, “The Great Stone Face”. written in 1850, that immortalized the Old man of the

The Old Man of the Mountain image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, September 1997
2. The Old Man of the Mountain
Mountains.

History does not record who first called the profile by the name we know today. W.C. Prime, world traveler and writer, who first came to this region in 1859 said it best: “It might elsewhere have been given a name. Here it has been always. The Old Man of the Mountain, otherwise name-less.”
 
Location. 44° 9.949′ N, 71° 40.733′ W. Marker is in Franconia, New Hampshire, in Grafton County. Marker can be reached from U.S. 93. Touch for map. The marker is in the Old Man of the Mountain Historic Site in Franconia Notch State Park. Marker is in this post office area: Franconia NH 03580, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Why is it called A NOTCH? (here, next to this marker); A Delicate Balance (here, next to this marker); Franconia Notch (here, next to this marker); Profile Lake (within shouting distance of this marker); Landslides (within shouting distance of this marker); Eagle Cliff (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Old Man of the Mountain (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Appalachian Trail (about 800 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Franconia.
 
Also see . . .  Old Man of the Mountain - Cannon The Living Legend. The rock face collapsed May 3, 2003. (Submitted on July 24, 2017, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.) 
 
Categories. Landmarks

 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 24, 2017. This page originally submitted on July 24, 2017, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. This page has been viewed 42 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 24, 2017, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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