Thinkin’ of ya, Old Man.

2013-05-02 17:29:39.000 – Brian Fitzgerald,  Weather Observer/Education Specialist

Cannon Cliff, where the Old Man once stood.

Writing from the top of one truly New Hampshire institution to another, tomorrow marks the 10th anniversary of the collapse of the Old Man of the Mountain in Franconia Notch. The great profile stood, and still stands, as a cultural icon for the state of New Hampshire, with its chiseled and weathered face. Since the first recorded sighting of the old man in 1805, the old man inspired the imaginations of countless visitors to the site, including Daniel Webster who wrote:

Men hang out the signs indicative of their respective trades; shoe makes hang out a gigantic show; jewelers a monster watch, and the dentist hangs out a gold tooth; but up in the Mountains of New Hampshire, God Almighty has hung out a sign to show that there He makes men.

Much to everyone’s dismay on May 3, 2003 during the early morning hours, the Old Man collapsed following the last freeze and thaw cycle he could take. In the build-up to the collapse the observatory reported a maximum of 44 degrees at the summit of Mount Washington at 12:00AM May 2nd, which then tumbled to a minimum of 16 degrees by 3:00AM on May 3rd, likely sealing the Old Man’s fate.

It’s encouraging for me to know that ten years later there are still plenty of people talking about the Old Man as I read the local news today. I’m even more encouraged to hear that the Observatory is hosting geologist Brian Fowler to speak about the Old Man’s history, geology and reasons for its fall this Saturday at our Weather Discover Center in North Conway Village at 7:00PM. I would highly recommend to anyone in the valley (unfortunately I’ll be up at work and can’t attend!) that they should go and see Fowler’s program that is F-R-E-E to the public. Follow the link here for more information.


Brian Fitzgerald,  Weather Observer/Education Specialist

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