Thunderstorms wreaked havoc throughout northern Nevada and California over the weekend, causing heavy rain, mudslides, and the demise of one of the region's most famous giant sequoias. The Pioneer Cabin tree, described by the Los Angeles Times as "one of Calaveras County's oldest residents," fell to the ground Sunday in Calaveras Big Trees State Park, bringing to an end one of the park's most famous attractions. A tunnel had been dug through its base sometime in the late 1870s or early 1880s; cars had even been allowed to drive through it at one point, though as of late only hikers could venture underneath the woodland giant.
KSBW notes that although the exact reasons for the tree's demise aren't known, the trail surrounding the tree had been flooded, and the tree's root system didn't dive very deep—only about 2 to 4 feet into the ground. "This iconic … tree … enchanted many visitors," the Calaveras Big Trees Association said on its Facebook page, showing pictures of the fallen tree taken by park volunteer Jim Allday. "The storm was just too much for it." Allday's wife, Joan, tells KSBW the tree was "barely alive" before it fell and had been tilting to one side for a few years. (Read more extreme weather stories.)