Earlier this month, The Pioneer Cabin Tree had completely been destroyed. It was a tree that had a hole cut into the base for travelers to pass through. It had been destroyed by an intense winter storm that came through.
One of the strongest storms in ten years had hit the area. The roots were very shallow so it was not able to hold up against the unusually strong storm. The tree had previously been reported to becoming brittle and was leaning slightly to one side. All but one branch remained on the tree prior to the storm, showing that the tree was already in poor condition.
Drive through trees were popularly carved out in California during the 19th century. Trees used were typically redwoods or sequoia trees. These have been popular tourist attractions in the West Coast.
The Pioneer Cabin Tree was originally created from a fire. It obtained it’s name as a “Cabin Tree” since it almost resembled a cabin. It was later expanded so that a complete tunnel was made for vehicles to pass through. Pictures of people inside of the free made for popular postcards.
The Pioneer Tree was a sequoia tree located at the Calaveras Big Trees State Park. The tree is well over 1,000 years old before it had died. It was over 33 feet in diameter and estimated at over 280 feet tall. The founder of Murphys Hotel, James Sperry, was the first to draw tourism to the tree. He was also responsible for expanding the size of the hole in the tree. Hikers commonly passed through the tree since it was a part of the North Grove Loop hiking trail.
Graffiti was permitted by tourists during the 19th century. It wasn’t prohibited until 1930. There were many markings made by visitors, typically marking their names on the tree.