New Hampshire 'Old Man' memorial expansion plan dropped

Thursday April 25, 2013

CONCORD, N.H. -- Nearly 10 years after New Hampshire’s Old Man of the Mountain crumbled, so, too, have plans to add to the memorial plaza dedicated to its memory.

The famed rock outcropping that has long served as the state symbol hung 1,200 feet above Profile Lake in Franconia Notch State Park before falling on May 3, 2003. The Old Man Legacy Fund, a nonprofit volunteer group, has been trying to raise money for a $5 million, multiphase memorial, but board member Dick Hamilton said Wednesday that no further work will be done.

"Fundraising has basically come nearly to a halt because of the economy, so there will be no phase two," he said. "Basically, what we have there now, we’re going to finish up, polish up, add some benches and some signage and then go away."

The group had raised about $500,000 for the first phase, which was unveiled in 2011 and includes a series of steel rods pointing at the Cannon Mountain that, when viewed from a certain angle, show an outline of the profile against the cliff. The plaza also features hundreds of stone pavers, purchased by members of the public and engraved with their names and memories of the Old Man..

Though no one knows how old the Old Man of Mountain was before it fell, several groups of surveyors working in the Franconia Notch area took credit for discovering it in 1805. It quickly became a popular tourist attraction and inspired many works of art and literature, including Nathaniel Hawthorne’s "The Great Stone Face." The Legislature adopted it as the state emblem in 1945, and it appears on the state quarter, highway signs and license plates.

The fund will be officially disbanded at the end of 2014, Hamilton said, and then it will be the state’s responsibility to maintain the site, which Hamilton said attracted between 25,000 and 30,000 visitors last summer.

An anniversary service is being held at the plaza on May 3, the 10th anniversary of the Old Man’s demise.


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