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A historic giant sequoia in California’s Calaveras Big Trees State Park collapsed on Sunday due to a severe winter storm. The Pioneer Cabin Tree was most known for its hollowed-out center that allowed cars and hikers to pass through.
Jim Allday, a volunteer at the park, told SFGate.com that the tree “shattered” upon impact with the ground on Sunday afternoon. According to Allday, people had passed through the tree as early as that morning.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the massive flooding and rainfall from the storm, combined with the tree’s shallow root system, was likely behind the sequoia’s collapse.
“The trail was literally a river, the trail is washed out,” said Allday, “I could see the tree on the ground, it looked like it was laying in a pond or lake with a river running through it.”
The tree was hollowed out in the 1880s to allow passage through it. Originally horses and cars traveled the path, but recently only hikers had been permitted through.
The Calaveras Big Tree Association wrote on Facebook, “The iconic and still living tree – the tunnel tree – enchanted many visitors. The storm was just too much for it.”
The Associated Press states that the storm that toppled the Pioneer Cabin Tree could be the biggest to hit the area in more than a decade.