The Spooner’s Cove arch, a treasured landmark of Montaña de Oro State Park, collapsed Christmas Eve likely due to rainstorms and heavy surfs, according to the California State Parks Department.

People in the community continue to share their griefs and remembrances of the arch online.

“What a tragic loss of an amazing national treasure that has graced millions of beautiful photographs!” Morro Bay Hills resident Rick Carlstrom said on Nextdoor.

“My sons explored and played there over 40 years ago,” Bay Oaks resident Vita Miller said on Nextdoor.

Susan Hightower, local resident of the Sunset Terrace area, frequently walks along the beaches that border San Luis Obispo County. Upon one of her most recent promenades, she noticed the arch to Spooner’s Cove, where she used to take her kids to play and spend time at the beach, was gone.

Hightower said that while the waves are tearing down natural coves and arches along the coastline, “unfettered access [also] exacerbates the erosion. It’s a double-edged sword.”

She notes that there is a huge lack of respect for the natural landmarks, like Spooner’s Cove, among the community and an overall lack of education in conservation efforts. 

“I’ve gotten frustrated over the years, people not treating our parks the way they should be treated,” Hightower told Mustang News. “I don’t think people realize how we affect the land in the long run. I’ve seen stuff out there that just makes my blood boil.”

Cal Poly history professor Daniel Krieger said Spooner’s arch was once a marker for incoming ships looking to drop off cargo in the 1800s. 

Krieger said the Spooner family, early settlers in San Luis Obispo, treasured the arch, and it quickly became a local jewel for the entire community.

“Now it’s no longer there, and in these dismal times, to lose a thing of beauty is a real tragedy,” Krieger said. “But that’s nature.”

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