In January 2017, the iconic 1000-year-old Pioneer Cabin Tree, also known as Tunnel Tree, was toppled over by a strong storm that hit Calaveras Big Trees State Park in California. Since it was so well-loved, we’d like to bring back the story to honor its memory.
The Pioneer Cabin tree has fallen! This iconic and still living tree – the tunnel tree – enchanted many visitors. The storm was just too much for it. Thank you, Jim Allday, for the word and the photos.
The tree was one of the most famous trees in the United States and drew thousands of visitors to the area each year. Its exact height was unknown but it was said to be over 100 feet tall and 33 feet wide.
Calaveras Big Trees Association wrote on Facebook, “The Pioneer Cabin tree has fallen! The tunnel tree enchanted many visitors. The storm was just too much for it.”
The tree was a giant sequoia tree, which is the largest type of tree in the world. Giant sequoias are known to grow up to 325 feet tall and live thousands of years. This specific tree was carved out in the early 1880s because its trunk was already partially hallowed out due to a lighting strike and forest fires. So they wanted to make a proper tunnel for tourists to walk through.
Visitors can walk through the Pioneer Cabin Tree when visiting Calaveras Big Trees State Park.
The heavy rain that day created a soft washed out dirt base combined with the strong winds it pushed the tree to its breaking point. Jim Allday, a volunteer worker who was at the park the day it happened said he heard it come crashing down around 2pm. Jim added that the moment it hit the ground it literally shattered on impact just an hour after a tourist walked under it.
“When I went out there [Sunday afternoon], the trail was literally a river, the trail is washed out,” Jim 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.”