Famed 1000-year-old 'drive-thru' tree collapses after storm
Digital News Reporter
Monday, January 9, 2017, 7:32 - One of California's most popular giant sequoia trees succumbed to a series of powerful Pacific storms on Sunday.
The iconic Pioneer Cabin tree at Calaveras Big Trees State Park toppled over on Sunday as winter storms pummeled California and Nevada, causing mudslides and floods in its wake.
The storms, which look to continue through Wednesday, could be the biggest the region has seen in more than a decade, The Associated Press reports.
A volunteer at the park reported that the tree went down at 2 p.m., shattering on impact, SF Gate reports.
There's the question of whether the tree's tunnel was to blame for its inability to stay grounded during the storm.
A California State Parks guide touches on this possibility, noting that [b]ecause of the huge cut, this tree can no longer support the growth of a top, which you can see lying on the ground if you walk through the tunnel."
The guide also notes that the tree's opening has also "reduced the ability of the tree to resist fire."
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One of the U.S.'s most visited trees, the sequoia was first hollowed into a tunnel in the 1880s. It's exact height is not known at the time, but it held a diameter of more than 30 ft.
The tree saw countless people, horses, and cars pass through it over the years, with its pedestrians limited only to hikers in more recent years.
Sequoias are known to live for more than 3,000 years, and the trees at Calaveras Big Trees State Park are reportedly more than 1,000 years old.
Thumbnail image courtesy of Tom Purcell, Flickr.Follow Daksha Rangan on Twitter