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R.I.P. Pioneer Cabin Tree

Several huge sequoia trees were made into "tunnel trees" in the 19th century, to highlight how big they are and to encourage motorists to visit California parks. It was good for tourism, but carving a hole through the trunk was not good for the individual tree. Now the last known sequoia tunnel tree in California has fallen. The Pioneer Cabin Tree in Calaveras Big Trees State Park, with its formerly drive-through (and recently walk-through) tunnel, fell under the force of a weekend winter storm, which brought flooding and mudslides. The tree was estimated to be at least a thousand years old

The iconic tree was one of just a few tunneled-through sequoias in California. The most famous was the Wawona Tree, in Yosemite National Park; it fell during a winter storm in 1969 at an estimated age of 2,100 years. The other remaining sequoia tunnels are dead or consist of logs on their side, the Forest Service says.

However, there are still three coastal redwoods (taller and more slender than sequoias) with tunnels cut through them. They're all operated by private companies, the Forest Service says, and still allow cars to drive through — one appeared in a recent Geico ad.

Park volunteer Jim Allday, who reported the tree's demise, said it shattered on impact with the ground. -via Metafilter

(Image credit: Flickr user Tom Purcell)

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Not terribly surprising, as the tunneling and constant traffic over the roots had weakened it so badly, but sad anyhow. I had several really charming hikes and walks in the area many years ago and remember all the fabulous trees. Thankfully, though we as a whole still don't know better than to do these things, the trees are now under the care of the park.
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In memorium:

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

-Joyce Kilmer
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