Historic California Tunnel Tree Brought Down in Storm

Courtesy of California Department of Parks and Recreation
Pioneer Cabin tree at Calaveras Big Trees State Park in California

Vistors used to drive through the giant sequoia tree named the Pioneer Cabin, one of the oldest residents of Northern California.

A popular sequoia "tunnel tree" — an attraction for many visitors who would drive and hike through the tree's base — fell to the ground on Sunday during a heavy flood of rain in Calaveras County in Northern California.

The tree, named Pioneer Cabin for its hollow base carved out 137 years ago, has recently been closed and only accessible through hiking a surrounding 1.5 mile trail.

Photos of the fallen tree at Calaveras Big Trees State Park were posted on Facebook by county resident and park volunteer Jim Allday with the caption, "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."

Allday told SF Gate that the tree fell around 2 p.m. on Sunday and "shattered" on impact. He told the local news site he noticed people walking through the tree Sunday morning, but in the afternoon the area around the trail and the tree was flooded due to rain.

“When I went out there, the trail was literally a river; the trail is washed out. 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," said Allday. His wife Joan told SF Gate that the tree was "very brittle and starting to lift" with "one branch alive at the top."

Pioneer Cabin was one of the many sequoias carved out as a tourist attraction at national state parks. Many sequoias at Calaveras Big Trees are estimated to be 1,000 years old and can live more than 3,000 years, according to the National Park Service.