The tree was about 2,000 years old, and the tunnel had been there over a century.
For over a century, people were able to drive or walk through a tunnel in the Pioneer Cabin Tree in Calaveras Big Trees State Park in California. However, the giant sequoia toppled on January 8 due to recent severe weather in the state.
A ranger estimated that the tree was around 2,000 years old. In the 1880s, people cut a hole in the sequoia as a way to follow on the success of Wawona Tunnel Tree at Yosemite National Park.
According to SFGate, a volunteer working at the park during the storm said that the giant sequoia fell around 2:00 P.M. local time (10:00 P.M. GMT), and it reportedly shattered upon hitting the ground. People were still able to walk through the tree during the morning of the storm.
Despite the tree’s massive size, the roots only went around four-feet (122-centimeters) deep, according to SFGate. Coupled with the fact that the sequoia was already tilting to one side, the significant rainfall was enough to make the ground so wet that the giant came down. You can get an idea of the massive amount of rain in the image below.
The park intends to leave the tree where it is now “providing habitat for many creatures and slowly decomposing to improve the soil for future sequoias,” according to the Calaveras Big Trees Association on Facebook.
Only hikers have been able to travel through the tree for decades. According to the Calaveras Big Trees Association, the park’s historian and naturalist estimated cars last drove through the sequoia some time after 1931 when the location became a state park. However, photos have shown vehicles driving through it later. The exact time of the switch still isn’t clear. “We'll have to check further,” according to the group.
Check out a video of the downed sequoia below.
Photo Credit: Sam Spicer / Shutterstock.com