California’s Monster Storm Just Claimed the Iconic Calaveras Tunnel Tree

RIP to the world's most photogenic garage

January 9, 2017 9:00 am

From parched farmers to winter sports enthusiasts, California’s recent deluge of precipitation has been a welcome change of pace.

But no gifts come free.

In the wake of last weekend’s winter storm, Calaveras Big Trees State Park lost its iconic Pioneer Cabin Tree. The tunnel was carved 137 years ago by settlers, and for many years, visitors drove their cars through it. That changed in recent years, when the trail became limited to hiking.

This wasn’t the only tunnel tree, but the three remaining are all redwoods — Pioneer Cabin was a sequoia, an increasingly rare breed of cyprus limited to a single grove in the Sierras. Sequoias live up to 3,000 years (this one was about 1,000) and have a shallow root system that rises up when it’s dying and topple over, as this tree did.

Obviously, cutting a giant hole in the base of a tree isn’t good for life expectancy. But it did make for some fun photo ops throughout the years.

pioneer cabin tree (5 images)

Now we’ll have to remember Calaveras County for its other icon: Mark Twain’s Jumping Frog.

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