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Copyright ©2017 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I woke up yesterday morning Jan.9, 2017 to read that the Pioneer Cabin Tunnel Tree in Calaveras Big Trees State Park in Northern California had fallen over on Sunday Jan.8, 2017. What a sad event to the Jan.2017 storm.

I first visited that tree as and others like it when I was a girl with my family, and later when all grown up, married with children of my own I took my children there to see the wonderful Big Trees.

They are Sequoias and Redwoods.

The Pioneer Cabin Tunnel Tree is was over 1,000 years old and still living before it toppled on Sunday.  137 years ago before the land was a state park the owners cut a tunnel out of the tree. I suppose a cabin fit in there at one time or could have hence the name.  Once long ago visitors could drive through it. Today it’s a hiking/walking trail only.  It was located on the North Grove trail in the park; an easy, flat hike of about 1.5 mile loop.

I was there last in June 2011 to photograph the Dogwoods in bloom (see that post here)

When I got to the Pioneer Cabin Tunnel Tree I made a self portrait in the tree tunnel. A rare thing, but today I’m so glad I did b/c I can’t recall making an image of my kids in the tunnel tree. My photos and albums are boxed up in the garage somewhere. I still haven’t unpacked everything from the remodel, and the photos my Mom had of us kids in it are long gone. Lost in all the moves, or the divorce? Sadly, no one can find them.

Deborah at the Pioneer Cabin Tree

Giant Sequoias and Redwoods have a shallow root system and are so tall they are susceptible to strong winds is what I read.

A sad day. This tree will be missed.

To see the felled tree and read one newspapers account of it click here.

Nikon D300s| Nikkor 17-35mm @17mm| SanDisk Digital Film| PS CC 2017

More to come…



  1. I love it!

  2. Sad day…but you were very lucky to not only have visited but to have captured the moment 🙂 🙂

  3. That was so great that you had the chance to pose with that lovely old tree before it got knocked down. I heard about it on the news and it saddened me. Maybe your mother’s photos will turn up eventually, I hope so.

    • Thank you so much Jean!

      We keep hoping the old photos will show up, but so far of those I’ve asked about I’ve only received 3 that my Mother could find and make me a copy of.

      One of my sisters still lives in the last house I lived in with my parents and she’s searched but hasn’t found any of the photos either. 😦 We really do fear they’re gone for good.

  4. This was a beautiful tribute to the tree’s stamina and indomitable will to live. Sad to hear the ending, though. One thousand years! xo

    • Thank you Robin! Many of the trees in the grove are over 2000! It’s amazing to think about that as you walk through there.

  5. That is sooo wonderful that you got to visit this giant before it fell. i am reminded of a couple of quotes about redwood trees.

    As soon as a redwood is cut down or burned, it sends up a crowd of eager, hopeful shoots, which, if allowed to grow, would in a few decades attain a height of a hundred feet, and the strongest of them would finally become giants as great as the original tree. – John Muir


    Redwood time moves at a more stately pace than human time. To us, when we look at a redwood tree, it seems to be motionless and still, and yet redwoods are constantly in motion, moving upward into space, articulating themselves and filling redwood space over redwood time, over thousands of years. – Richard Preston

    The Winslow Family motto is “From death comes life” and the coat of arms features a tree stump with a new shoot growing out of it. And so the Pioneer Cabin Tunnel Tree will lie there – or at least parts of it will lie there – beside the trail. And then perhaps hopeful shoots may grow upward beside the neighboring companion trees. Together these trees that for thousands of years had made stately cool green roofs for those beings – including Deborah – that passed under them.

    • Oh Robert, thank you so much for the lovely quotes about the Redwoods, and their time.

      I love your families motto. I do hope there will be new shoots springing up near the Pioneer Cabin Tunnel Tree this Spring!

  6. That is so sad! I have always wanted to visit and see these amazing trees. I hate to hear this happened.

  7. How sad….. 😦 I love your self-portrait in the tunnel, Deborah!

  8. Very sad! I love that photo

  9. I couldn’t bring myself to hit ‘like’ because we’ve lost a piece of our natural history. Good post and photos. 🙂

  10. I used to love going to Muir Woods and communing with the Redwoods. Sorry about this tree.

  11. That place looks so neat! Cool photo for sure!

  12. I heard about this on the news this morning … such a shame. Those grand old trees are a wonder of nature and losing one is a tragedy. Your photos have just become that much more valuable.

  13. Very sad. If this is an example of the next four years… 😦

    • Well, I’m all for more rain in the next 4 winters. Hopefully we can shut the door on the drought for a few years before the next one, but no more toppled Giant trees thank you!

  14. I was really sad to hear yesterday that this tree has fallen. I visited in 1992…a very long time ago but still have great memories of this park. Nice pics. (Suzanne)

  15. I was so sad to hear about this yesterday. I’m glad you had a photo of yourself there. That will be a precious treasure.


  16. I was heartbroken when I read the headlines that morning. Was it yesterday? Like you I have memories but no photos of being there as a small child and then off and on as I grew. You’re right about the root systems. They depend on each other to help break the wind and support each other below ground. In my grandmother’s neighborhood so many had been removed that owners of remaining ones were pressured to cut down theirs as the risk of lone redwoods toppling is too great. How sad is that? I still get mad, thinking about it. Why move in among 1000yr old trees only to start cutting them down?!

    • It fell over on Sunday; probably sometime in the night during the really hard windy period of the storm.

      I don’t get it either. People are weird, and backward thinking sometimes.

      We’re looking at houses and hoping for one with a view of the Sierras, but almost every house we look at the owner is touting the great views, but they’ve planted pine trees, and other trees that are getting huge and are beginning to block the view or will be blocking the view in the future! What are they thinking? I keep pointing this out to our realtor, but she keeps pointing out the view. 🙂

      Thanks for the additional facts on the Sequoia and Redwood root systems. I didn’t know that. XX

  17. I never got to see this but I always thought it was so cool. Such a sad thing to hear it’s gone. Thanks for posting this!

  18. Another post where I wish WordPress had something other than a ‘Like’ button 😦

    Thank you for posting this, Deborah, as I doubt I would have heard about it if you hadn’t. I have pictures of a tunnel tree near (I think) Eureka from a trip up the northern CA and Oregon coast.

    • I wonder if the tree you saw was the one in Legget, CA? Could you drive through that one still, and was it on private property?

      I’ve been near that one a couple of times but haven’t stopped to see it. I’ve put it on my Bucket List.

      • I have a photo of it. I seem to recall it being a narrow and very square cut notch. I’ll have to look. We stayed overnight in Eureka, but I don’t know if we saw the tree on the way there or as we were driving north.

  19. That IS sad! I have not been to to see the Sequoias or Redwood yet. I remember that my great-grandmother, who lived in Los Angeles, had jewelry made from petrified wood.

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