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Archive for Wednesday, May 7, 2003

N.H. officials debate mountain’s future

May 7, 2003

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— With the Old Man of the Mountain now just a pile of rubble, many in New Hampshire say that while the craggy rock formation should not be forgotten, it should not be raised from the dead.

"I've got nothing against a memorial of some kind," said Donald Hall, a former New Hampshire poet laureate. "But I think the ruin of the forehead and the face is its own memorial."

Over the years, nature had carved a 40-foot-tall granite outcropping resembling an old man's face in profile, and it eventually became New Hampshire's most recognizable symbol, depicted on the state's quarter.

Last week, though, the 700-ton formation in Franconia Notch State Park broke loose from its 1,200-foot-high perch.

On Saturday, Republican Gov. Craig Benson called for restoring the profile on Cannon Mountain.

"We'll build back a replica of something that represents the Old Man of the Mountain," he said, but then quickly backed off the idea.

On Tuesday, Benson appointed a 12-member committee to seek public input on the monument. Committee members include David Nielsen, whose family has been taking care of the Old Man for decades.

Members say they are open to ideas ranging from rebuilding the monument out of rubber and plastic to creating a memorial but letting the cliff remain faceless.

Roy Allen, who was visiting the state park from Rochester, N.H., was in favor of rebuilding the Old Man. "We can put a man on the moon -- seems maybe now we can put a type of a face up there," he said.

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