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April 08. 2013 7:45PM

Ten years later, Old Man of the Mountain lives on, with tribute May 3

FRANCONIA NOTCH - On May 3 the Old Man of the Mountain Legacy Fund volunteers are holding a 10th anniversary Tribute to the Old Man of the Mountain at Profile Plaza. The event begins at 11:30 a.m., and all who hold the Old Man close are invited to attend.

It was in 2003 that New Hampshire woke up on that Saturday morning to the news that the Old Man of the Mountain had collapsed overnight, leaving an empty space in the heart of the White Mountains.

He was gone, but far from forgotten, and those who knew him best started work on a fitting memorial to New Hampshire's best known visage almost immediately after. That work resulted in the Old Man of the Mountain Profile Plaza, where seven steel 'profilers' recreate the image of the Old Man on the side of Cannon Mountain, and where memorial benches and the over 600 engraved stone pavers and keep the spirit alive for future generations.

"The Legacy Fund has worked for a decade to design, fund, and build a fitting memorial to the Old Man and has seen support from hundreds of people throughout New Hampshire and beyond," said Old Man of the Mountain Legacy Fund president Dick Hamilton, of Littleton. "On May 3rd, we'll have a moment of silence to reflect on the Old Man and the importance the profile continues to have for the state, for tourism in the North Country, and for the many people who remember and loved the Old Man."

Efforts to prevent the Old Man from falling down the mountainside into the talus below began nearly 100 years ago, when in 1915 the Rev. Guy Roberts lobbied the Franconia town fathers to do work to keep the Great Stone Face up on the mountain. In 1916 expert quarryman E.H. Geddes of Quincy, Mass., hand drilled 1-inch round tie-rods into the top of the forehead slab.

A couple of decades later, Geddes added more tie-rods and sealed several cracks in the Profile, now part of the Franconia State Park. In 1945, the Old Man was officially designated the state of New Hampshire emblem.

The giant steel turnbuckles were installed in 1958 by Niels Nielsen of the N.H. Department of Transportation and his staff at the Bridge Maintenance Division, and one of those turnbuckles now sits at Profile Plaza.

The Legacy Fund still has paver stones available, with the proceeds going towards the build-out of the memorial site.

Hamilton said he expects many friends of the Old Man, including those who have bought pavers, to attend the ceremony.

For more information, got to OldManNH.org.

syoungknox@newstote.com

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