Old Man of the Mountain

Franconia, New Hampshire, USA

Collapsed 2003

The Disappointed Tourist: Old Man of the Mountain, Ellen Harvey, 2021. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 24 x 18″ (61 x 46 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard

For me the collapse of the Old Man of the Mountain represented a poignant intersection of historical and geologic time. The attempt to affix the human image to the landscape became in this case a demonstration of our impermanence as a species. Mark M.

Here is an idea for you — a lost treasure. Andrew P.

The Old Man of the Mountain (also, the Great Stone Face or the Profile) was a granite rock formation on Cannon Mountain in Franconia in the New Hampshire White Mountains that looked like the profile of a man when viewed from the north. It was 40 feet (12 m) tall and 25 feet (7.6 m) wide. It became a tourist attraction and eventually the New Hampshire state emblem, largely because of New Hampshire native statesman Daniel Webster, who wrote: “Men hang out their signs indicative of their respective trades; shoemakers 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.” It also provided the inspiration of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story “The Great Stone Face.” The formation collapsed on May 3, 2003. A memorial to the Old Man of the Mountain was completed in 2020. The painting is based on an uncredited photograph on the Geology/science.com.