FRANCONIA – The opening of a handicapped-accessible fishing platform and walkway at Profile Lake ended the work of the all-volunteer, privately funded group charged with creating a “lasting legacy of remembrance” for the Old Man of the Mountain.
The granite profile of the Old Man collapsed on Cannon Mountain on May 3, 2003, the victim of gravity and years of weathering.
After the collapse, a task force was created and from it was born the Old Man of the Mountain Legacy Fund, which has worked in partnership with the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation on several elements within what is known as Profiler Plaza.
The Plaza includes 1,201 paver stones engraved with the names and memories of friends of the Old Man and Franconia Notch, said Dick Hamilton, along with seven metal “profilers,” which allow visitors to visually superimpose a profile of the Old Man onto the mountain.
The Legacy Fund has raised $550,000 for its efforts, “and we spent it all,” said Hamilton.
He is the group’s vice president and one of six members of its successor, the Friends of the Old Man of the Mountain. The last of the fund’s assets was used to pay for the handicapped-accessible fishing platform and walkway, toward which the state contributed $75,000, said Hamilton.
The Legacy Fund has accomplished much and has much to be proud of, he said.
“I’m happy, and it was a wonderful turnout” for Saturday’s ribbon-cutting in Franconia Notch State Park, said Hamilton, who from 1970 through 2005 was the president of White Mountain Attractions.
Every night after work while driving through the Notch to his home in Littleton, Hamilton said he would say “Goodnight, boss” to the Old Man.
The recipient of a 2018 Granite State Legacy Award for his contributions to New Hampshire’s tourism industry, Hamilton recalled visiting what would become Profiler Plaza with several people, including Jim Alden, the owner of the Chutters candy stores in Littleton and Lincoln, “and we dreamed what could be and most of it was.”
Gov. Chris Sununu joined Hamilton and Sarah Stewart, the commissioner of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, for the ribbon-cutting at the fishing platform.
The governor told several dozen people in the plaza that “it’s all about accessibility” in terms of bringing visitors to the best of what New Hampshire has to offer.
“Even with the COVID pandemic, we have done it really, really well,” said Sununu.
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