FRANCONIA — Today marks the 15th anniversary of the collapse of the Old Man of the Mountain. Long a symbol of the Granite State, the Old Man marks state highway signs, license plates and the New Hampshire quarter and remains a cherished icon for many.
Franconia Notch State Park employees first noted the Old Man’s absence the morning of May 3, 2003, and news of the profile’s fall spread quickly. Curious and shocked onlookers from near and far gathered in Franconia Notch that day and continued to arrive throughout the following days to see for themselves the absence of the Old Man.
Many still visit the Profiler Plaza on the shore of Profile Lake in Franconia Notch on the anniversary of the Old Man’s collapse.
“I’ve come here on May 3, each year since the Old Man fell,” said Dick Hamilton, of Littleton, board member of the Old Man of the Mountain Legacy Fund. “Like many other people, I dearly miss the Old Man. But this place is still one of the most beautiful places anywhere, and the Profiler Plaza helps people remember the Old Man and his importance to the region and to the people of New Hampshire.”
Formed soon after the Old Man’s collapse, the non-profit Legacy Fund was tasked with creating a memorial to the Old Man within Franconia Notch. The Profiler Plaza was dedicated in June 2011, with the unveiling of seven steel “profilers,” which allow visitors to see how the Profile appeared for eons on the side of Cannon Mountain, some 1,200 feet above the floor of Franconia Notch.
The Legacy Fund has worked with the state Division of Parks and Recreation to develop and maintain the plaza, which has been funded entirely through private donations. The Profiler Plaza contains more than 1,000 paver stones engraved with the names and memories of friends of the Old Man and Franconia Notch from around New Hampshire and far beyond.
The pathway leading to the plaza features several interpretive signs on the nature and history of Franconia Notch, including a panel explaining the reasons for the Old Man’s collapse, as well as one of the giant steel turnbuckles that helped secure the Old Man for decades, and the 1928 plaque dedicating Franconia Notch to the veterans of New Hampshire.
Visitors are welcome to the Profiler Plaza throughout the year. Two museums, one at the Valley Station of the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway and another at the parking area near the Profiler Plaza, will open for the season Memorial Day weekend.
For more information about the Old Man of the Mountain Profiler Plaza, visit OldManNH.org.