CALIFORNIA—One of California’s historic landmarks, the Pioneer Cabin Tree in Calaveras Big Trees Park located in Calaveras County, toppled over due to recent weather conditions on Sunday, January 8.

Jim Allday, a Calaveras Big Trees Park volunteer says the giant sequoia most likely fell to the ground and “shattered at impact” at 2:00 p.m. on January 8. According to the SF Gate, the tree may have fallen due to the combination of heavy amounts of rain and the sequoia’s shallow root system.

California's Pioneer Cabin Tree before it toppled over due to weather conditions.
California’s Pioneer Cabin Tree before it toppled over due to weather conditions.

The Pioneer Cabin Tree dates back to the late 1800s when the Calaveras Big Trees park was first established. The tree is well-known for its tunnel-like features that hikers would often pass under. Years before the sequoia allowed cars to drive through.The Calaveras Big Trees Association explained that their docent historian and naturalist, Nancy Muleady-Mecham, Ph.D estimates that cars were able to pass under the tunnel in 1931—the same time North Grove became a state park. According to the association’s Facebook page, the timeline is still being confirmed through further research, particularly since there are photos from the 1960s showing cars driving under the tree’s “tunnel.”

Pioneer Cabin Tree in September 1968.
Pioneer Cabin Tree in September 1968.

Names and drawings could also be found on the inside of the tree’s “tunnel” as people were encouraged to etch their names into the bark.

The Calaveras Big Trees Association published a Facebook post on  stating:

“This iconic and still living tree – the tunnel tree – enchanted many visitors. The storm was just too much for it. Thank you, Jim Allday, for the word and the photos.”

The post has since been shared more than 20,000 times and “liked” 11,000 times. Nearly 3,000 people commented on the post with memories, and expressions of sadness over the loss of a historic tree.