Famous California Tunnel Tree Falls in Storm

An ancient California sequoia tree, famous for the large tunnel that was carved into it 137 years ago, was knocked down in the intense winter storm on January 8. The tree, which was known as the Pioneer Cabin sequoia, was located in the Calaveras Big Trees State Park, about 100 miles southeast of Sacramento.


California is home to several beloved tunneled-through sequoia trees, and the Pioneer Cabin was likely more than 1,000 years old. The tunnels were originally created in the 19th century so travelers with horses and automobiles could easily pass through them. Cars haven’t been allowed to pass through the trees for a long time, but many hikers passed through the Pioneer Cabin every day.


Jim Allday, a volunteer at the Big Trees State Park, broke the news that the tree hit the ground and shattered as a result of the storm. He reported that the tree fell at about 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon after the surrounding trail had flooded. According to SFGate.com, the tree had a very shallow root system, with its roots stretching only about four feet into the ground. As the trail flooded, the tree was uprooted. This is a very common cause of death for sequoia trees. The Pioneer Cabin had been weakening for the last several years, and before it fell, it had started to lean to one side, which is a sign that its life was coming to an end.


The Calaveras Big Tree Association mourned the loss of the tree on their Facebook page. Many commenters shared their memories of visiting the tree and expressed their sorrow that it has fallen.