Pioneer Cabin Tree, California’s Ancient Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree' felled down by storms

Jan 31, 2017 | written by:

The Pioneer Cabin Tree, a sequoia in Calaveras Big Trees State Park in California, has not survived to a powerful winter storm slammed into California and Nevada in the last few weeks, prompting flooding and mudslides in some regions, and it falled down. The giant sequoia, 45 meters high and 11 meters in diameter, stood tall for more 137 years in Calaveras Big Trees State Park, one of the wonderful American national parks which host real plant monuments, and it was considered by many the biggest in the United States of America.

The ancient tree had been dug at the base and shaped to form a tunnel over a thousand years ago and since 1880 the Pioneer Cabin Tree saw horses, carriages and then cars pass through it over the years. More recently, however, only hikers were allowed to walk through the massive tree, without using means of transport. The inclination to dig tunnels into the trunks of trees exploded in the 19th century to promote tourism.

The Pioneer Cabin Tree was one of the last living witnesses of this ancient tradition since even the Wawona Tree, another millenarian sequoia dug in Yosemite National Park in 1969 was knocked down by a violent winter storm winter. The Californian gigantic tree was a victim of its own tourist attraction function. The sequoia, which had at least a thousand years, kept only a vital side and the constant exposure to the elements in the dug part of the tunnel, designed for the enjoyment of visitors, mined its health and stability, weakening the roots and trunk. For years it was tilt on one side and the gusts of wind and heavy rainfall on Sunday, January 8 were simply too strong for this green giant, who fell down and went to pieces. For many, the collapse of the Pioneer Cabin Tree was like a bereavement. “We lost an old friend today - tells Jim Allday, a volunteer of the park, posting his condolences on his Facebook profile and a picture of the fallen tree - It was majestic, but now it’s basically a pile of rubble”. 

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