Like many families do, we headed off for a mini vacation to celebrate our nation’s Independence Day. I can never think of a better destination than the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Before bringing the kids to Clark’s Trading Post for a day of childhood fun, I convinced the family to make a quick detour in the Franconia Notch to Profile Plaza to check out the Old Man of the Mountain memorial that was dedicated back in 2011.
The Profile Plaza Memorial design was created by Shelly Bradbury and Ron Magers and was funded by private donations. It’s my understanding that what is currently there is only Phase 1 of the project and when funds are raised to continue, Phase 2 and Phase 3 will follow.
The memorial is a short walk downhill from the parking area off from 93, exit 34B (tramway exit). It’s a paved path and follows a nice little brook with benches and information signage along the way. Once you get into the plaza memorial area, there’s a common where one of the giant steel tethers that once helped hold the Old Man up on Cannon is displayed. It really puts into perspective how large he was! All around, this common were signs about the Old Man’s history and one that caught my eye was of my favorite Old Man quote by Daniel Webster.
As you move into the next section, granite pavers engraved with people's names and messages who donated to the cause led the way. There are 7, large steel pillars off the banks of Profile Lake. Each one has a series of rock profiles that when viewed from the correct angle, make up the Old Man’s profile. Combine that with standing on footprint pavers for your height, and you can see what the Old Man looked like on Cannon’s cliffs. It’s pretty ingenious really and very cool to say the least. It works so well that it’s even easy to get a photograph of the profile against the mountain.
Even though the Old Man isn’t hanging up there, it was a very nice place. It was peaceful on Profile Lake even with the crowds of people there. We even got to watch some fisherman fly fish for some brookies for a while.
Back up at the parking area, we checked out the facilities. There was small room dedicated as a museum for the Old Man and a standard “White Mountains” gift shop…as well as some restrooms.
From what I read online, Phase 2 and Phase 3 will be comprised of larger rock carvings or sculptures that will show the actual size of the Old Man and give us a better understanding of how he was made up, up close.
Proposed Phase 2 (large monoliths), from Shelly Bradbury Studio's site
Proposed Phase 3 (entrance), from Shelly Bradbury Studio's site
The Old Man holds a special place in my heart. It’s representative of the mountains that I love so much and symbolizes the great State that my family calls home. I only remember seeing the Old Man overlooking the mountains once, from the window of a school bus while heading south on 93 coming home from a field trip we took to Heritage New Hampshire (now closed). I can honestly say I didn’t appreciate it then and wish I could turn back time to really admire it as it should have been. More so, I wish my kids could see how amazing it was. I would highly recommend stopping by Profile Plaza and checking out where the Old Man once hung and where he will always be remembered
I'll leave you with my favorite quote about the Old Man which I've posted a few times but is fitting, and was noted on a sign in the plaza:
“Men hang out their signs indicative of their respective trades; shoe makers hang out a gigantic shoe; 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.” ~ Daniel Webster