California’s iconic ‘drive-thru’ tree succumbs to storm

The historic Pioneer Cabin tree, a beloved 1000-year-old giant sequoia at Calaveras Big Trees State Park, was toppled by an onslaught of rain ... and human folly. If this were an ordinary obituary, we’d talk about where the deceased was born and raised and the highlights of their life. In this case, it’s different – though the life was no less extraordinary than most dignitaries. The giant sequoia known as Pioneer Cabin – one of the Golden State's best-known trees – was unable to bear the brunt of the winter storms that pummeled California over the weekend. It fell to the ground, shattering on impact. A member of the giant sequoia grove in Calaveras Big Trees State Park, Pioneer Cabin stood among 250-tall trees estimated to be more than 1,000 years old. Pioneer stood apart, however, thanks to the tunnel carved into the trunk – which brought the towering tree much acclaim, but may have been the cause of its demise as well. The tree was hollowed out in the 1880s – an attempt to lure tourists in the fashion of Yosemite’s famed Wawona tunnel tree. At the time, the Pioneer Cabin grove was part of a private resort. Visitors could drive through the tree and it shot to fame, but, no surprise, the giant gaping hole in its trunk was not easy to endure. “Because of the huge cut, this tree can no longer support the growth of a top, which you can see lying on the ground if you walk through the tunnel,” a park guide notes. “The opening also has reduced the ability of the tree to resist fire.”

Read More: TreeHugger


Share this post


Leave a comment