When great trees fall in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses eroded beyond fear.
When Great Trees Fall, Maya Angelou
One of the country’s most iconic trees toppled over Sunday afternoon as result of heavy winter storms hitting California and Nevada.
The “Pioneer Cabin Tree” as it was named, was one of a few tunnel sequoia trees in California. The tree was located on Calavera Big Trees State Park —a state park protecting two groves of giant sequoia trees. The Pioneer Cabin Tree was one of the park’s most visited trees.
The Pioneer Cabin Tree’s exact age isn’t known, but other trees in the park are estimated to be more than 1,000 years old. A tunnel was carved into the 32-foot diameter trunk of the of the tree back in the 1880s, and for awhile, cars could drive through the tunnel. In recent time, only hikers and animals were allowed to walk through the tree.
Tunnel carving into giant sequoias was a popular trend in the 19th century to promote parks and attract tourism. However, carving tunnels out of trees is damaging to the tree. The Pioneer Cabin Tree was suffering even before the storm.
Joan Allday, a volunteer at the Park said the tree “was barely alive, there was one branch alive at the top. But it was very brittle and starting to lift.” Joan’s husband Jim was the one who discovered the that the tree fell over. He said the tree shattered when it hit the ground.
There are still three coastal redwood trees standing today with tunnels cut through them. Losing an iconic tree reminds us why it’s important to replant our forests, to grow new trees that people can admire for years to come.
“If a tree dies, plant another in its place.”