Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


WHAT WITH the New Hampshire Primary being less than two weeks away, I believe a tidbit here on the Granite State is timely. I have several excellent sources here, the average age of which is 110.5 years.


Specifically, the books are Sweetser’s New England, 1896; The Tourists’ Guide to the State of New Hampshire, 1902; Baedeker’s’ Handbook for Travellers: The United States with Excursions to Mexico, Cuba, Porto Rico, and Alaska, 1909; and The Favorite Motorways of New England, Historical and Descriptive, 1915.

Note that the Baedeker’s is particularly up-to-date with its Cuban excursion. And, as I’ve noted before about old guidebooks, anything worth seeing back then and still existing is probably worth a look today.

In addition to being the 61st episode of Breaking Bad, the “Granite State” is a familiar nickname for New Hampshire, and for good reason. Prominent among local granite was the Old Man of the Mountain, aka the Great Stone Face or the Profile. This touristic attraction was located in the White Mountains, near Franconia, New Hampshire.


The Tourist’s Guide calls the Old Man of the Mountain “doubtless the greatest rock formation in the world.” Sweetser’s approaches E.L. Jamesian prose in its description of “a firmly draw chin, lips slightly parted, and a well-proportioned nose surmounted by a massive brow.”

Baedeker’s, Favorite Motorways and Sweetser’s all mention continuing along to The Basin. Baedeker’s calls it “a small pool by the roadside, where the imaginative see the form of a human foot and leg in the rocks.”

There seem to be a lot of rock-hard body parts strewn around New Hampshire.

Apparently for the less imaginative, Sweetser’s spells it out: “The best way to enjoy the beauty of the Basin is to ascend to the highest of the cascades that slide along a mile of the mountain at the W. Then follow down by their pathways, as they make the rocks now white with foam, now glassy with thin, smooth, transparent sheets, till they mingle their water with the Pemigewasset at the foot, and, pouring their common treasury around the groove worn in the rocky roof, fall with musical splash into the shadowed reservoir beneath.”

Sweetser’s also includes this cryptic one-liner about the nearby Pool: “Visitors can descend to the level of the water, where an eccentric hermit dwells in a rude boat.”


Eagle Cliff above the Profile House, stereoscopic view by Nathan W. Pease, 1836 – 1918, noted New Hampshire photographer.

For less eccentric accommodations, all four of my sources recommend the Profile House, Sweetser’s saying “Its corridors are crowded during the summer with visitors from the coast-cities and its dining-hall is said to be the finest in New England.” The first Profile House opened in 1853; a second iteration burned to the ground in 1923 and was not replaced.

Figure the Profile House back then at around $5 per day, $30 per week ($120/day, $700/week in todays’ dollars). Inexplicably, Favorite Motorways has the hotel at an elevation of 1950 ft., 24 ft. less than the other three. Elevations are the same today as they were in 1910 1/2.


At left, a New Hampshire quarter. At right, our own personal New Hampshire souvenir, an Old Man of the Mountain bobble-head.

The Old Man of the Mountain was there long before and after the Profile House: First identified in 1805, this touristic attraction for the imaginative collapsed on May 3, 2003. Today, its best view is on the reverse of the New Hampshire quarter.

There might be a political metaphor here, but I’m not sure. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2016

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This entry was posted on January 29, 2016 by in Just Trippin' and tagged , , , , , .
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