Winter storms deal death blow to iconic California rock formation

·2 min read
Montana de Oro State Park Arch

A view of the arch at Montana de Oro State Park in California. (Flickr/Randy Robinson)

Not even the magic of Christmas could save an iconic California rock formation from collapsing.

On Christmas Eve, the historic rock arch along a S an Luis Obispo beach in California's Montana de Oro State Park, situated about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, collapsed in on itself, according to reporting from the Los Angeles Times.

The rock formation's collapse has been blamed on the record-breaking weather in California during the month of December, which seemingly weathered the ancient arch until it could no longer stand. The December rainfall totals in San Luis Obispo County were as high as 12 inches, and the storms that have pelted the coast have brought high waves, pounding fragile coastal features.

Montana de Oro State Park Arch

A view of the arch, now collapsed, at Montana de Oro State Park. (Flickr/Randy Robinson)

Eric Hjelstrom, chief ranger for the San Luis Obispo Coast District of California State Parks, noted that the caves and arches that form along the coast are caused by the waves crashing into the sandstone cliff-laced coastline.

They're part of "what gives you the allure of this part of California," Hjelstrom told the Los Angeles Times, adding that "the same force that creates the arch eventually destroys it."

The arch had been a fixture of the local area since at least the 1870s, according to Dan Kreiger, a professor emeritus of history at Cal Poly. It is possible that the arch had been on the California coast for centuries before collapsing, he told the Los Angeles Times.

"I knew that [the arch] was fragile," Kreiger said. "I just fell in love with it, and when I heard it was gone, I felt a sense of loss."

Other local residents paid their tributes to the arch online, sharing the many photos they have taken over the years at the famous spot.

"As kids, we'd play underneath the arch, imagining that it would fall down. It was a magical little place where we used to play," Sarah Mavety, owner/chef at Hazard's in Los Osos, California, told The SLO Tribune.

See what the now-collapsed arch looks like in the below video from KSBY News.

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