The "Tunnel Tree" Is Felled by Storm
Iconic Giant Sequoia May Have Been Weakened by Drought
One of the most photographed trees in the nation, the hollowed out "tunnel tree," more officially known as the "Pioneer Cabin Tree," will now live only in those photos and peoples' memories as it is being reported that during the massive winter storm that struck over the weekend in Northern California, the giant sequoia toppled and shattered upon impact.
Though its base was carved out in the 1880s to allow tourists to pass through it, it continued to live until now at the Calaveras Big Trees State Park, which is about 150 miles east of San Francisco. As the Calaveras Big Trees Association posted on their Facebook page, "the storm was just too much for it."
The storm in question has led to the worst flooding in a decade in California and Nevada, produced a wind gust of 173 mph in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, where the state park is located, and is being blamed for the deaths of at least three people.
On the association's website, Peter Ralston writes that drought stress has caused an increase in mortality in many conifers and that studies have shown that taller trees, due to a number of factors including having to lift water to a greater height, are more vulnerable to the stress.