When the weather reports said a really big storm was headed for California, they meant a storm strong enough to fell one of the most iconic trees in the world.

Over the weekend, the 1000-year-old Pioneer Cabin Tree in Calaveras Big Trees State Park, also known as the “tunnel tree” for the road tunnel cut through its massive base, tumbled due to heavy rains and wind.

The tunnel was cut into the trees base 137 years ago, and while there has been no official post mortem, it’s probably safe to assume that the big hole played a role in its fall. Joan Allday, a volunteer at the park, said the tree was unhealthy and had been leaning to one side for some time.

“It was barely alive, there was one branch alive at the top,” she told SFGate. “But it was very brittle and starting to lift.”

That said, early photos of the tree show that it had a large hollow in its base, large enough for people to stand inside, hence the name “Pioneer Cabin Tree.” At the time the hole was cut, the park was


Many posts on the Calaveras Big Trees Association Facebook page paid homage to the big tree. “I’m so sad to hear this,” wrote Faith Alarcon-Calden. “It’s like losing a friend. We have so many pics with her.”