For many millions of years, the Old Man of the Mountain stared unflinchingly across Franconia Notch (a few miles north of the superb Flume Gorge) perched precariously on an upper granite wall, almost 400 metres from the base of the gorge. The Old Man had the enigmatic look of a craggy Mona Lisa, neither smiling nor frowning. His fixed gaze oversaw a park full of great walking trails, fine forests, narrow niches and crevices and thunderous cascades from the heavy winter snows. His sturdy reliable form was appropriately adopted as the state symbol for New Hampshire, colloquially described as the Granite State.
His image was popularised on stamps, licence plates, highway markers, souvenirs and a US quarter coin. Indeed, it seemed difficult to move more than a few metres anywhere in the state without sighting his familiar fatherly image.
Daniel Webster, a New Hampshire statesman ensured the Old Man's fame when he grandly said "Men hang out their signs indicative of their respective trades; shoemakers hang out a gigantic shoe; jewelers a monster watch, and the dentist hangs out a gold tooth; but in the mountains of New Hampshire, God Almighty has hung out a sign to show that there He makes men."
Sadly despite every effort to stabilise and support the aged figure with cables and concrete, he sadly toppled from his stately perch some five years ago, in May, 2003.
It seems appropriate to remember this fine New England gentleman on Thanksgiving Day.