The Pioneer Cabin Tree also known as the “Tunnel Tree” to many, was a giant ancient sequoia with a hollowed-out tunnel through it’s base that resided in the Calaveras Big Trees State Park in California. This tree was hollowed-out to help increase tourism to the park during the 1880’s. Ultimately it drew thousands of visitors each year in California. This impressive and historic tree sadly toppled over on Sunday, January 8, 2017 during a period of heavy rains.
Cars were once allowed to drive through the Tunnel Tree for a period of time. But in recent decades the tunnel was only accessible to hikers on a 1.5-mile loop in the park.
The Pioneer Cabin tree was one of several “tunnel trees” that had been carved out and served as human amusements. The Wawona tree, in the Mariposa Grove at Yosemite National Park, was cut open in 1881. It fell down during a winter storm in 1969 and has been known as the Fallen Tunnel Tree since then. It was more than 2,000 years old when it fell.
The Chandelier tree lives in a private Redwood grove in Leggett, CA which is north of San Francisco. The public is allowed to drive through the tree’s carved-out opening for a fee.
Sequoias are known as the largest tree species in the world. They can reach diameters up to 27 feet and have shallow root systems that make them vulnerable to toppling. The oldest known giant sequoia based on ring count is 3,500 years old. The giant sequoia is usually found in a humid climate characterized by dry summers and snowy winters. And they typically grow best in an elevation of 4,600–6,600 ft.
For more information regarding the Pioneer Cabin Tree’s toppling please visit this link.