Iconic Sequoia 'Tunnel Tree' Falls After Intense Winter Storm

The Pioneer Cabin Tree in California's Calaveras Big Trees State Park fell on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017. WIN-Initiative/Getty Images

If a tree falls in the forest and no one's around to hear it, does it make a sound? Zen philosophy aside, when California's Pioneer Cabin sequoia, one of the largest trees in the world, fell over on Sunday, Jan. 8, following an intense winter storm, it most certainly made a thunderous noise. The Pioneer Cabin was one of the state's famous "tunnel trees," large living sequoia and redwood trees with man-made passages carved through their bases.

The giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) measured 33 feet (10.1 meters) in diameter. Though its exact age is unknown, and sequoias can live to be almost 3,000 years old, the trees at Calaveras Big Trees State Park, the Pioneer Cabin trees' home, are estimated to be between 1,000 and 2,000 years old.

A powerful winter storm hit the region over this past weekend, and serious flooding may have contributed to the tree's toppling, according to SFGate.com. The tree was also reportedly in ill health overall.

A photo posted to Facebook by the Calaveras Big Trees Association shows the Pioneer Cabin Tree on its side, with its base heavily splintered:

Tunnel Log is located in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park.
Amy Selleck/Flickr
An undated, mid-19th century image of the Pioneer Cabin Tree from before a tunnel was carved into it.
Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images