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

A Delicate Balance

 
 
A Delicate Balance Marker image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, September 2008
1. A Delicate Balance Marker
Inscription. Geologists speculate that the Old Man of the Mountain, formed by a retreating glacier during the last ice age, looked out over Profile Lake for more than 12,000 years. On May 3, 2003, the delicate balance that had held the “Great Stone Face” in position through the ages came to an abrupt end.

(Captions)
The Old Man was made of five slabs of Conway granite balanced one atop another. As shown in this drawing of the south side of the stone face, but hidden in the familiar view from the north, was a cavern about four feet wide behind the Old Manís chin (Block 5). which ran almost the entire width of the Old manís face. About 80% of the chin block hung out over the cliff. Thus, just about two feet of the chin was anchored to the cliff, held there only by the weight of the four slabs above it. Amazingly, the other four slabs were positioned so that the center of gravity of the chin block was within that two foot span. This allowed the Old Man to balance on its chin for centuries.

1 – The Old Manís visage was delicately balanced on the chin, with weight of upper blocks holding the chin in place.

2 – Water damage eventually moved the chinís center of gravity, causing the chin block to move slightly forward past the cliff face. When this happened, the chin toppled down the cliff.

3 & 4 – With

A proposed memorial image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, September 2008
2. A proposed memorial
the chin gone, the support from below for the upper lip and nose was removed. The weight of those slabs, combined with chemical water damage they sustained through the years, caused them to break and topple soon after the chin.

5 – The forehead slab, left unsupported, quickly followed and the Old Man of the Mountain, as we had known it, was gone.

A photograph taken shortly after the Old Manís disappearance provides further evidence that water damage to the granite through the years caused the rocks to break and tumble rather than to slide. What appears to be dirt actually is granite that was “rooted” by water. (The local granite is loaded with the mineral potash feldspar, which is particularly reactive with water.
 
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); The Old Man of the Mountain (here, next to this marker); Franconia Notch (here, next to this marker);

The Old Man of the Mountain, 1997 image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, September 1997
3. The Old Man of the Mountain, 1997
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.
 
Categories. Landmarks
 
The Old Man of the Mountain, 2008 image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, September 2008
4. The Old Man of the Mountain, 2008
 
 
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 56 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. 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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