A personal history by Douglass P. Teschner
I went to Franconia College and I always slowed down and looked up on my way back to school going through the Notch. I always said hello to the Old Man. I still do to this day.
With Lisbon connections, my wife and I have always made a point of "looking for the Old Man" whenever we were leaving or returning to the North Country over these past 70+ years.
My Grandmother, Catherine Bowles McGregor was raised on the Profile Farm 1/2 way down 3-mile hill. They raised vegetables, fruits, meat and dairy products to serve at the hotels.
My wife's great-grandfather, Sylvanus D. Morgan's company built the 2nd Profile House in 1905(burned down August 1923).
We both wept when we heard the news May 3rd, 2003.
The weekend before the collapse my family of 5 were riding through the notch northbound heading toward a celebration of family birthdays. As usual we stopped so that everyone in the car could say hi to the Old Man. The following Sunday we drove soutbound with a group. One of the group was a high schooler from Maine who had never seen the Old Man... but it was socked in with fog.
The following Sunday I was in Nashua at a Boy Scout leader training event. The news passed through the camp as if we were informed of the passing of a real individual. All were saddened by the collapse.
It brought back memories of my youth when every visit to the notch meant a stop. I did some rock climbing and spent some time on the cliffs and had the privilege of sitting on the old man's head. A special spot. We now have a few curios on a shelf including pictures and paintings of the Old Man. He will always be a part of our lives.
A drawing by Alice Cosgrove picturing President Eisenhower and Chippa Granite during the 1955 Jubilee celebration. During 1955 Chippa Granite posters were everwhere. A contest to find the boy that looked like the posters ended at my house. I was the real live Chippa that went to the White House to invite the President to the Jubilee Celebration. The old man is a memory close to my heart. So many great trips and memories of that year. So proud to be from New Hampshire and my time as Chippa Granite in 1955.
Barry A. Elliott
Oh I think it was maybe around 1965 when I first saw the old of man. For as long as I could remember, we would visit family in Berlin, my mom's home town. We left from Manchester. And for the entire ride up to the notch, my mom talked about the old of man of the mountain. I was young, thought I was looking for and old dude hanging out on the mountain. I don't know how many times we made that turn around profile lake with my mom enthusiastically saying look up there he is. First few times I did not see him. We made that pilgrimage to Berlin often, so another chance was right around the corner, literally. Mom said look up as we made that turn around profile lake and there he was. It was amazing. Maybe because of my mom's enthusiastic discretion or it was made in the likeness of the face of god. I don't know, but it profoundly hit me. From that day forward I shared my mom's enthusiasm with my friends, children and grandchildren.
We heard the sad news from channel 9 that Saturday morning. Saddened by the news, Cora my wife and myself jumped in the car and headed north, from our home in Goffstown. We arrived, to see a lot of other people sharing that same sadness that our old man was gone. But we all came to the realization that he wouldn't be forgotten.
The attached photo hangs in our living room. My mom gave Cora and I that photo around 1976 because we shared the same love for our old man.
Thank you for never forgetting.
I was five years old when the Old Man of the Mountain fell, but to this day, standing in front of Profile Lake and staring upwards at the Old Man is one of my earliest, clearest memories. I remember feeling awe, and even a bit frightened, to see this person gazing down at me - feeling ever so real and human to a five-year-old with a big imagination. I spend my entire childhood in New Hampshire, and with countless trips to the White Mountains, my family and I would never forget to stop by Profile Lake, even after the Old Man fell, to pay our respects.
My husband and I felt so bad when we heard "Our" Old Man came tumbling down. We were planning our wedding at the time. Instead of a Guest Book, we had a poster of all Old Man of the Mountain on a table for our guests to sign. It hangs proudly in our home even until today... 20 years later.
Leo and Rita Glasheen
One of my earliest memories is of traveling from Northfield up into the White Mountains for the first of our annual family camping trips. I remember seeing the old man and being mesmerized. I felt proud as a child to be from NH, a place that had something so amazing. Ever since that day, I still see him when I drive north. He may not be there physically, but I know the impact he made in many hearts and minds of New Hampshirites.
Born & raised in New Hampshire, my family would visit the Franconia Notch area and we would stop and gaze at the magnificent face of the Old Man of the Mountain almost every summer. Along with enjoying a ride up the Cannon Mtn. Tramway, a trip to The Flume, and picnicking along the way on Rt. 93.
In the 1980's, my mother, Ruth Brown, served a 4-year term as President for the NH State Women's Clubs. She and hundreds of women throughout NH helped to organize fund raising efforts to focus on a vision that Niels Neilson, caretaker of the Old Man from 1965 - 2001, had: to build a Museum to collect historical information and memorabilia.
In June, 2011, my father, Arthur Brown, Jr. and I, attended the dedication of this historic Museum as my mother passed away in 2010. Dick Hamilton, who was the President of the Old Man of the Mountain Legacy Fund, joined us along with David (son of Niels) and Deborah Neilson to reminisce and reflect on the history and memories this NH Landmark bestowed on the beautiful granite state of NH.
Visit the Museum and Plaza - The history of artifacts and resounding history of this Landmark along with the Plaza that has been created is amazing and definitely worth the time!
When I was twelve my father took me on a short camping vacation to the White Mountains, we lived in Langdon. My brother stayed home with our mother as father had taken him on a short vacation up north while I stayed home with mother. I saw our Old Man of the Mountains, as well as going to the drive-in movie, Clark's Trading Post and a gift shop. I always looked for the Old Man whenever I came through the notch on many trips over the years. In 2003 my daughter was pole vaulting at a high school meet at Lebanon High School. The kids couldn't hear the announcement of his falling with all the noise and intensity of events they were competing in. A six foot man was standing near me and he just stated crying. What a sad loss for us. My daughter qualified for upcoming state meet so that was good result to the day, but I felt the Old Man loss and stil feel that way. It is not the same when I drive through the notch as he is not there and pretending one can see him is not the feeling for one who has actually seen him.
K. R. Allen
The Old Man brings memories to me of my family vacations when we would visit him. Sad Day for all.
I have included video and pictures from a video my Dad took of the Old Man on a family vacation. My Dad recently had his 100th Birthday last December and is going strong.
I have a photo of my wife's uncle, Larry Baillargeon, a New Hampshire native from Berlin. He used to inspect the Old Man and perform maintenance on the formation. Larry has had a very interesting life. In fact, he is in an article of an Air Force cold weather survival school in the May, 1953 edition of National Geographic!
Copyright is maintained. No permission to reproduce this photo in any form.
M. & T. Walker
When I was a little girl my grandfather, my grandmother, my sister and me would take a ride to the Old Man every single summer, sometimes more than once. My grandfather would park so we could all see and we would get out of the car and just stand there and look. No-one really spoke other than the listening to my grandfather saying "oh there he is, just look at that" and that is all that was needed. It was peaceful, and the look on my grandfathers face, I will remember forever. That was one of the best childhood memories that I have. When I hear someone say "The Old Man", my mind immediately go to those memories. I will cherish them forever along with my grandfather.
My husband, Guy Hoover and I, got married on the Old Man's forehead, on July 11, 1987. Nineteen of us rode the tramway to the top of Cannon Mt., then hiked for an hour-and-a-half, to the Old Man. We had North Woodstock's then Chief of Police, the late John Maynard, as our Justice of the Peace. A friend, Ken Mortz, brought his keyboard, to play the wedding song.
We went back up on each anniversary, taking a handful of friends with us each time, until the Old Man fell. The year he fell, we stumbled on what to do, as we grieved the loss of our beloved Old Man of the Mountain. So, we met with Dick Hamilton, who loved to minimize our deep and intimate connection to the Old Man. We donated a photo of our wedding ceremony, a poem that I wrote for the Old Man, a pair of yellow coffee pot salt &pepper shakers, from our collection, and a pair of sterling silver earrings to the Old Man of the Mountain Museum. We finished our personal tribute to our treasured friend, by going to Kelly's Tattoo, and the late Tim Mosman created beautiful tattoos for both of us.
My husband and I were thrilled when May 3 was declared an official day of rememberance to the Old Man of the Mt. Sadly, my husband did not live long enough to see it, as he passed away on March 30, 2023, one month ago, at the age of 75. I will be observing the day, for the both of us. I will go to our paver, and I will leave a bouquet of flowers, at the turnbuckle, that lies in the Profile Plaza, that we stood at 36 years ago, as we have done on May 3, each year since his fall.
To our knowledge, there have been no other weddings ON the Old Man's forehead. There have been some on the beach of Profile Lake and at the top of Cannon Mountain.
After I rushed over to Franconia to cover the aftermath, a bunch of we reporters were gathered on the lawn by Echo Lake. Then-Gov. Craig Benson held a press conference, saying that maybe we could replace the Old Man with a fake one - people were somewhat taken aback by that idea....
Then Dick Hamilton asked if I wanted to go for a helicopter ride-which was a first for me. From the chopper, I could shoot down, capturing images of the turnbuckles that had for so long held Him together. Like a death in the family. Sad and I miss the Old Man still.
Conway Daily Sun
Richard "Mac" MacNeill worked on the White Mountain National Forest from 1962 until 1974. For many of those years as the ranger out of the Littleton office of the Ammonoosuc District. The White Mountains were his office and the Old Man the ultimate supervisor. I don't think we ever drove past without Dad saying "there he is!" "Mac" passed in 2002 and we were able to purchase a paver at the memorial site in his honor. When our mom passed in early 2021 we knew we wanted a larger one with both names. The Old Man Memorial is a place to remember our parents in a spot they loved.
Laconia, New Hampshire
My Grandmother, Mrs. Dana 'Alice' Leavitt was the principal of Franconia Elementary School in the 1950's and 60's. She held the notch in high regard. In fact, her husband and my grandfather Dana A Leavitt climbed the 'Old Man' on more than one occasion. They also ran Leavitt's Grocery in the town of Franconia. I called her 'Nanie' and she would take me to see the Old Man every time I would visit her. The rest of the notch attractions too but the Old Man was special.
We would climb into her Rambler and the. Later her AMC Hornet and go visit the Old Man during all seasons but I especially remember Autumn before the built the interstate 93 highway through the notch. It was a wonderful time of year with all the blazing reds, oranges, yellows, purples and about every other color you can imagine.
We would take photos of the Old Man with her Kodak Instamatic camera. Sometimes we would go to Polly's Pancake Parlor in Sugar Hill, Clark's Trained Bears and climb the fire tower and so many other beautiful places.
Those rides through Franconia Notch hold very fond memories for me. It was a special time in my life and my 4'10' grandmother sharing the Old Man of The Mountain with me is something I will never forget.
Back in the early 60's my Dad would pull over in the Notch so that my sister and I could see the 'old man'. He would point to the cliff and urge us to make him out. He told us he was really really big. He'd hold our faces and point our eyes to the rockface, but young children think in literal terms. "Old Man on the Mountain" to us meant that some old giant man had hiked up the mountain and was standing on the top. We never saw this giant standing up there even though Dad was adamant that he was clearly there every time.
My sister and I worried that Dad was going coocoo, so we decided to kindly humor him by telling him we did indeed see the old man on the next visit there. My sister earnestly blurted out that he was wearing a black and red checked shirt and I added helpfully that he was wearing a red hat! Dad just looked at us with a sad look. For some time, I felt really bad for my Dad for having such crazy visions of giant old men. Finally one day I saw what he saw. It was an epiphany for me and comforting to realize that Dad wasn't coocoo after all!
The day that the Old Man fell, was a day I had promised my mother I would come to Woodsville to help her with shopping. On my way, I stopped at the Bath store and everyone was gathered around a radio. One of them said "Did you hear the Old Man fell down early this morning?" I was shocked and listened to the broadcast. All I could think of was that I needed to turn back and head to the Notch for Dick's sake. When I arrived at the notch, there was a huge crowd with press, state officials and police were busy directing traffic. I walked up toward the bigger crowd, found Dick and gave him a big hug. He was greeting everyone allowing them to pose with him and providing his morning story with as many who asked. It was interesting that Dick took the time to wear a jacket like he was dressed for an ordinary business day, which made me wonder if that was how he felt - his last business day with the Old Man.
Barbara Ashley, Friend and Colleague of Dick Hamilton
We visited in 2006, not realizing the Old Man was gone. Finding out, I was sad but amused at our silliness for not knowing, and at Mother Nature for keeping on. The experience inspired this poem:
Where the Old Man of the Mountain was
At the end of the trail
winding along to the place where we learn
That the ancient stone profile,
the point of pilgrimage,
Carved and cancelled by forces that can't
leave well enough alone,
Fell from the mountainside years ago,
Here at the foot of the incomplete cliff
The water winks at the sun,
And jostled by the complicit wind,
Breaks into white peals of laughter.