The Old Man of the Mountain's Collapse

Geologists estimate that the Old Man of the Mountain had gazed out over Profile Lake for more than 12,000 years. That's why it was such a shock when, on May 3, 2003, he crumbled down the mountainside.

The collapse of the Old Man of the Mountain was no surprise to those in the know. In fact, the Appalachian Mountain Club had reported on his precarious state as early as 1872. Everybody recognized that it wouldn't do to have the stoic symbol of New Hampshire drop off the side of the mountain, so attempts to anchor the top-heavy face began in 1916 and continued for the next four generations. But Mother Nature could not be thwarted. Every year snow and rain were driven into the cracks and caverns. As temperatures dropped the water expanded, exacerbating the cracks. The gradual process of wear and tear finally upset the balance and the Old Man crumbled.

Following his destruction, some claimed the state would find a 'new' Old Man to replace him, and contenders sprout up every few months, but for purists this is out of the question. New Hampshire residents seem determined not to forget the iconic old sourpuss. His visage still adorns their license plates – and may long remain in their hearts. In 2013 New Hampshire opened a memorial in Franconia Notch State Park with granite benches, imaginative recreated viewpoints, interpretive signs and stones engraved with people's memories of the Old Man.

New Hampshire's Favorite Stone

New Hampshire will forever be known as 'the Granite State.' This refers not merely to the tough, take-no-bullshit attitude of the locals but also to the state's enormous granite quarries, which still yield vast amounts of this very solid stone. They've also played a pivotal role in some of the country's most important structures: New Hampshire granite was used in Boston's Quincy Market, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Pentagon and even the Library of Congress.