My first encounter with the "Old Man Of The Mountain"

I was six and he was 10,000 (give or take) years old when Trooper Paul O'Leary picked me up for the day trip to Franconia Notch. They told me I was going to see the "Old Man In The Mountain." Oh my, I thought, was I in some kind of trouble? Having been brought up to respect my elders, I was wondering who is this man and what is he going to say to me? The long ride with my mother and Trooper O'Leary was made longer by my anticipation of what to expect.

Chippa Granite Ski Promotion poster

We arrived in this big parking lot with people moving all about. This guy must be something, I thought, with so many people coming to see him. After the usual speech about not running off, I anxiously traveled down the path where people were coming and going. What am I going to find, I thought, still a little nervous about meeting the "Old Man." Did he live in the mountain? Did he have a beard? How old is he, I wondered. The trail ended at this beautiful lake, but no one was looking at it, they were all looking towards the sky. What are they looking at? Why have all these people walked down this path through the trees tripping on rocks, tree roots and stepping in puddles so they could look to the sky? Then I saw him. Wow! I thought. Double WOW!! Even at six years old, I knew I had seen something fantastic. I was so excited, I looked back to see if my escorts had caught up to me. They could help me get a better look through the binoculars mounted on the poles, I thought. I had to see him up close, as close as I could.

Chippa Granite NH Dairy Promotion

Even after taking many turns sharing the binoculars with others, I wanted to stay longer but was told that we needed to get back to the visitor's booth soon for I was scheduled to greet people during their visit to the "Old Man." You see, I was Chippa Granite, an idea of the NH State Planning and Development Commission. I was chosen to travel around the state to promote tourism through the eyes of a young NH boy. Here I was welcoming all that traveled to see the "Old Man In The Mountain" dressed in my red and white striped shirt with farmers pants uniform and thinking what am I doing here? Why would anyone want to stop to see me when I can go see the "Old Man"?

I can still remember when we left the Notch that day, I kept looking out the window watching the "Old Man's" face turn into a non-descript group of rocks as we traveled down the road.

During my year as Chippa Granite, the "Old Man" and I were paired on billboards and promotional information about NH. That year he and I became best of friends and that vision of the "Old Man In The Mountain" has become the symbol of the love I have for New Hampshire.

My last encounter with the "Old Man" was just a few weeks ago while traveling on town business through the Notch. I wish now that I had asked the driver to stop a minute so I could spend some time with my old friend.

I guess that thinking about the "Old Man" passing brings me to think about my own life. In 1955 before the term icon was popular, there were two of them in Franconia Notch. The "Old Man Of The Mountain" and Chippa Granite.

Hardly a person can be found that remembers Chippa, but the whole world will never forget the "Great Stone Face." I know I won't.

Barry A. Elliott
Chippa Granite 1955

But New Hampshire

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Old Man of the Mountain Profiler Plaza