A giant sequoia tree in California’s Sierra Nevada, nicknamed the “tunnel tree” from its iconic hollowed out base, was found toppled over after powerful winter storms hit California over the weekend. The tree was estimated to be over 1,000 years old and was called “The Pioneer Cabin Tree” and was popular with tourist and natives.
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The sequoia was standing 325 feet tall in Calaveras Big Trees State Park before the storm surge hit. Calaveras Big Trees Association remembered the iconic tree in a Facebook post: “This iconic and still living tree — the tunnel tree — enchanted many visitors.”
They added that because of its age, “The storm was just too much for it.” The giant sequoia is the world largest tree and is indigenous to the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Visitors were able to drive through the base of the tree and take pictures after it was hollowed out in the 1800s. Recently, the tree had seen better days and tourists were only allowed to walk on a hiking trail through the tree instead of driving through. It has even been featured in a few Hollywood films that take place in the forest.
Jim Allday, a volunteer, was working at the park during the time the tree succumbed to the elements. Allday said that the tree “shattered” on impact with the ground. He said that visitors were just walking through it a mere hour before it came down.
“When I went out there [Sunday afternoon], the trail was literally a river, the trail is washed out,” Allday told SFGate. “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 storm that hit Northern California brought with it heavy rain and snow in certain areas. Meteorologist warned people that flooding could take place and it could be the worse in over a decade.
As a precaution, Yosemite National Park was closed down after winds exceeded 100 MPH on the crest of the mountain. Allday said, “People are in absolute shock.” He added, “The shame of it is that the history of the park is tied into this tree quite a bit. The inside of the Cabin Tree was covered with etchings from the 1800s. Those are lost now.”