California's historic 'drive-through' tree has fallen down

An enormous sequoia tree in California’s Calaveras Big Trees State Park was toppled by a storm on January 8.

A popular photo-op for tourists, the middle of the Pioneer Cabin tree was cut to form a tunnel in the 1880s. It was hollowed out to compete with a similar tree tunnel in Yosemite National Park. The tree remained alive despite the damage, and cars were allowed to drive through it for many years. Recently, however, passage was restricted to hikers.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Jim Allday, a volunteer working at the park, said the tree fell on Sunday afternoon and shattered when it hit the ground. He described the trail around it as completely flooded due to recent rain.

The Calaveras Big Trees Association posted Allday’s photos of the felled tree on its Facebook page Sunday afternoon, prompting over 1,700 comments.

“This iconic and still living tree – the tunnel tree – enchanted many visitors. The storm was just too much for it,” the post read.

According to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, the oldest known giant sequoia tree is over 3,000 years old. Many of the giant trees in the state park are estimated to be more than 1,000 years old. The trees can theoretically live forever, as their deaths come only from external events, like erosion, fires, and floods. 

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