A New Look For The Broken Old Man

This month, State Impact is digging into New Hampshire’s tourism economy, and this piece by Charles Pierce of the Boston Globe caught our eye.  Back in 2003, New Hampshire’s leading symbol–the Old Man of the Mountain, finally collapsed. 

“Now, though, through…[the] Old Man of the Mountain Legacy Fund, and through the work of a sculptor and an inventor of toys from Essex, Massachusetts, the now blank side of the mountain is getting a slow-motion face lift of sorts. The Old Man is being put back up there, at least as a visual image, if not in actual fact.”

The sculptor is Shelly Bradbury, and the inventor is her partner, Ron Magers.  Since the remaining granite on the mountain at Franconia Notch won’t support any additional weight, Bradbury and Magers had to find a creative way to resurrect the symbol.  Here’s what they’ve come up with:

Just Us 3 / Flickr

A creative couple is working on resurrecting New Hampshire's iconic image.

“Magers’s idea was a series of ‘profilers,’ long metal staffs that look like inverted hockey sticks. On what would be the blade of the hockey sticks, Magers placed small bumps and ridges. When someone stood at exactly the right distance from any of the seven profilers and looked up at the face of the mountain, their bumps and ridges would coalesce to form the image of the face, right where it used to be…

…Bradbury’s design called for five huge vertical slabs, each of them representing a portion of the vanished original. Lined up along a walkway that began between two leaning granite spires, the slabs would be aligned so that people stopping at the observation platform at the head of the pathway would see a stone replica of the Old Man looming up before them.

Mager’s end of the project is already done, at the cost of $300 thousand in Legacy Fund donations.  For Bradbury’s piece, though, the Globe reports a much heftier price tag–$3 million–and a logistical nightmare in the making.  If you haven’t already been to Franconia Notch, it’s worth checking out the piece in the Globe, which includes a nifty little slider that allows you to compare the original Old Man to Mager’s profilers.


About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »