CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – The special committee looking into what to do about New Hampshire’s fallen symbol, the Old Man of the Mountain, is getting plenty of suggestions.

In the month since the stone face crumbled, the group has received about 1,500 e-mails and 250 letters, and they keep coming.

Travel and Tourism spokeswoman Margaret Joyce says her office is sorting the suggestions into two main piles: to build or not to build.

Nothing is official yet, but she says the “no-build” pile is taller than the “build” pile so far.

Some suggestions for rebuilding the stone profile range from using fiberglass, metal, having local artisans carve out a replica or displaying holograms of the Old Man.

The “no-build” pile includes many recommendations for a memorial at the Franconia Notch State Park site.

The public has until the end of September to comment, but don’t expect a solution that soon, according to Dick Hamilton, a member of the committee.

“It’s going to be a couple of years before anything is in place,” he said.

Hamilton said a report will be offered outlining the project. Joyce also said a recommendation will be given to Gov. Craig Benson for approval.

Joyce said that several people have suggested superimposing a photo of the Old Man in a viewfinder.

“They want to see something up there,” she said.

The letters and e-mails from out-of-staters, Joyce said, include recollections of their childhood.

“They have memories of being taken there by their parents and that just sticks in their mind,” she said.

State Geologist David Wunsch, also a member of the committee, estimated rebuilding the profile would cost $20 million, but even so said the rock is not stable enough to hold a replacement.

Builders, he said, would have to use cranes that would have to be airlifted by helicopter or a path bulldozed up the mountain.

“There would be a lot of environmental damage,” Wunsch said.

According to Hamilton, a member of the Old Man of the Mountain Revitalization Fund, so far only $2,600 has been collected in donations. He believes contributions will pick up once the committee decides on a plan.

As president of the White Mountains Attractions Associations, Hamilton was in charge of publicizing the Old Man for 33 years.

Hamilton said he personally would like to see a memorial.

“Mother Nature put him there and Mother Nature took him away,” he said.

David Nielsen, the Old Man of the Mountain caretaker for the past 13 years, said he also would like a memorial and expansion of the one-room Old Man of the Mountain Museum.

AP-ES-06-10-03 1432EDT


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