Iconic Sequoia ‘Tunnel Tree’ Brought Down by California Storm


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pioneer cabin tree

Source: NPR

An ancient, iconic sequoia tree in Calaveras Big Trees State Park, also known as the “tunnel tree” and the Pioneer Cabin Tree, is no more. The massive California tree crumbled under the pressure of a winter storm that barreled through the state on Sunday.

“The Pioneer Cabin tree has fallen,” the Calaveras Big Trees Association posted to Facebook. “This iconic and still living tree — the tunnel tree — enchanted many visitors. The storm was just too much for it.”


Park volunteer Jim Allday found the tree after the storm Sunday morning. He told SFGate.com that the trail was in bad shape.

“When I went out there (Sunday afternoon), the trail was literally a river, the trail is washed out,” Allday said. “I could see the tree on the ground, it looked like it was laying in a pond or lake with a river running through it.”

The tree is estimated to be over 1,000 years old, but the lifespan of a sequoia can reach past 3,000.

Allday’s wife reported that the tree had been on its last legs as of recently. She told SFGate.com that it was “barely alive.” 

“There was one branch alive at the top,” she said. “But it was very brittle and starting to lift.”

While the Pioneer Cabin Tree was the most popular tunneled-through tree, others still exist in the park.

Unfortunately, disastrous storms such as this may increase in frequency due to climate change. According to NASA Earth Observatory, climate models point to not only boosted temperatures, but also to the intensifying of storms, “including tropical cyclones with higher wind speeds, a wetter Asian monsoon, and, possibly, more intense mid-latitude storms.”

If you think that the park will create more tunneled-through trees for you to enjoy, think again. The trees are worth way more completely whole than as something you can drive through.


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