Old Man of the Mountain returns in NH student’s interactive 3D model

Published: May. 2, 2023 at 4:57 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HANOVER, N.H. (WCAX) - It’s been 20 years since New Hampshire’s Old Man of the Mountain fell from the cliff in Franconia Notch. But now, the public has a new, unique way to view the historic stone face.

The Old Man of the Mountain is an iconic symbol in the Granite State. The image is on license plates and street signs. Now, thanks to a graduate student at Dartmouth College, the well-known profile can be seen in a new light.

“Cannon Cliff, if you have ever hiked Franconia Ridge, it is pretty much the crown jewel of Franconia Notch,” Matthew Maclay said.

For hundreds of years, Franconia Notch was home to the Old Man of the Mountain, a stone profile that rested quietly in the landscape of the White Mountains. But early one morning, despite efforts to tether the Old Man’s stone into place, he was gone.

Maclay, a grad student at Dartmouth, has been researching exactly why the Old Man fell.

“Centuries of chemical degradation of the granite as well as freeze-thaw cycles and a very harsh environment up there in Franconia Notch,” he said.

But thanks to Maclay’s online interactive 3D model, the Old Man can be seen again. And his model steals the show. Not only does it give before and after views of the notch, but, also a bird’s-eye view of what the stone face looked like while he was still there.

“It’s very impressive. It’s a home run from the scientific point of view,” said Brian Fowler, the president of the Old Man of the Mountain Legacy Fund.

Fowler collaborated on the project, providing historical photos for the digital imagery and his own research from decades earlier.

“For people who had seen it, it was sort of a life-changing experience, which I don’t think people recognized that way until after it collapsed,” Fowler said.

Maclay, who is not from New Hampshire, says the project has made the Franconia Notch feel like home.

“The amazing way in which it has brought together certain elements of history and society, as well as the science,” he said.

Maclay’s work will likely culminate with a thesis on his research which will be shared during a virtual event Wednesday morning, exactly 20 years to the day after the old man fell from its perch.

Related Stories:

New Hampshire House passes bill honoring fallen ‘Old Man’

Scare about another ‘Old Man’ collapse was just an illusion

New bench dedicated at site of Old Man of the Mountain