California has lost one of its biggest icons after the ancient Pioneer Cabin Tree crashed to the forest floor in a fierce storm.
The giant sequoia, estimated to be more than 1000 years old, proved a major attraction at the Calaveras Big Trees State Park.
It became known as the “tunnel tree” after the centre of the tree’s trunk was removed 137 years ago and carved out to make a small arch for people and cars to pass through.
California and Nevada have been thrashed by storms for the past week, the ferocity finally uprooting the trunk.
People took to social media to farewell the mammoth tree, some pointing out the carving of its trunk may have played a part in its collapse.
“That tree might be standing if it hadn’t been abused by cutting through it,” one person commented on Facebook.
“This was inevitable unfortunately, these big trees are mostly anchored by the ‘tap’ root which goes from the middle of the tree straight down into the ground, this was obviously severed at some point so it was surviving using the lateral roots,” wrote another.
While no longer standing tall, the historic tree will take on a new role in the protected forest.
“The tree will most likely remain where it fell, providing habitat for many creatures and slowly decomposing to improve the soil for future sequoias,” the Calaveras Big Trees Association wrote on Facebook.