Margaret Castine


The Old Man of the Mountains, also known as The Great Stone Face, The Profile, or simply, The Old Man, is the New Hampshire state symbol.  Even if you have never visited New Hamshire, you may recognize the old guy from the New Hampshire State Quarter.  At 40 feet tall and 25 feet wide, the granite face protruding form Profile Mountain and gazing protectively over Franconia Notch was something of a miracle - a work of nature that seemingly defied gravity.

The first recorded mention of the Old Man was in 1805.  Freezing and thawing opened fissures in the Old Man's forehead.  By the 1920s, the crack was wide enough to be mended with chains, and in 1957 the state legislature passed a $25,000 appropriation for a more elaborate weatherproofing, using 20 tons of fast-drying cement, plastic covering, and steel rods and turnbuckles, plus a concrete gutter to divert runoff from above.  A team from the state highway and park divisions kept the patchwork up-to-date each summer.  Nevertheless, the formation collapsed to the ground between midnight and 2 a.m., May 3, 2003.  Dismay over the collapse was so great that people left flowers at the base of the cliffs in tribute.