Tunnel Tree

Calaveras Park, California, USA

Fell 2017

The Disappointed Tourist: Tunnel Tree, Ellen Harvey, 2021. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 18 x 24″ (46 x 61 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

Sad, sad, sad.  Anon.

We’ve been dozens of times but somehow never made it to the Tunnel Tree. It was often too crowded (or beloved?) or we were off to some other part of the valley thinking it would always be there. We were so sad we missed our chance when it fell. Angela E. & Aurora I.

The Tunnel Tree, also known as The Pioneer Cabin Tree, was a giant sequoia in Calaveras Big Trees State Park. It was estimated to have been over 1,000 years old and 33 feet (10 m) in diameter. The tree got its name from its hollow trunk, the result of old forest fires, which created an interior “cabin.” In the 1880s, a larger tunnel was cut through the tree and for many years, cars were able to drive though the tree as part of the Big Trees Trail. It was one of the U.S.’s most famous trees and drew thousands of visitors each year. It fell during a storm on January 8, 2017. The painting is based on a Getty photograph.