An enormous sequoia tree in California’s Calaveras Big Trees State Park was toppled by a storm on January 8.
A popular photo op for tourists, the middle of the Pioneer Cabin tree was cut to form a tunnel in the 1880s. It was hollowed out to compete with a similar tree tunnel in Yosemite National Park. The tree lived despite the damage, and cars were allowed to drive through it for many years.
Recently, however, passage was restricted to hikers.
According to The San Francisco Chronicle, Jim Allday, a volunteer working at the park, said the tree fell on Sunday afternoon and shattered when it hit the ground. He said the trail around it was flooded because of recent rain.
The Calaveras Big Trees Association posted Allday’s photos of the felled tree on its Facebook page Sunday afternoon, prompting over 1,700 comments.
“This iconic and still living tree — the tunnel tree — enchanted many visitors,” the post said. “The storm was just too much for it.”
According to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, the oldest known giant sequoia tree is over 3,000 years old. Many of the giant trees in the state park are estimated to be more than 1,000 years old. The trees can theoretically live forever, as their deaths are caused only by external events like erosion, fires, and floods.