Sunday, January 15, 2017

Mighty Giants

Past and present views of the fallen Pioneer Cabin Tree 
at Calaveras Big Trees State Park in Arnold, Calif. 
Famous for a "drive-thru" hole carved into its trunk, 
the giant sequoia was toppled over by a massive storm 
on Sunday, January 8, 2017.

—Michael Ceraolo, Willoughby Hills, OH

Healthy for a thousand years,
maybe more

Capable of living at least another thousand

But that was not to be

The slow death began in the 1880s,
when the owners of the land
hollowed out a space at the base
great enough for a stagecoach to drive through,
creating a privately-owned tourist destination
to compete with a similarly-mutilated tree nearby
in what would soon become
Yosemite National Park

The 150-foot tall sequoia
soon acquired the name Pioneer Cabin,
the naming,
                  and the eventual transfer of the land
from private ownership to state control,
could not stop death from spreading upward:

"this tree can no longer support the growth of a top,
which you can see lying on the ground
if you walk through the tunnel"

"The opening also has reduced the ability
of the tree to resist fire"

it wasn't fire that supplied the coup de grace

"It was barely alive;
there was one branch alive at the top"

on January 7, 2017,
a severe storm finished it off:

Pioneer Cabin was "very brittle"
shattered into many pieces
upon hitting the ground


Our thanks to Michael Ceraolo for this ode to the death of California’s Pioneer Cabin sequoia. For pictures of the tree and other tunnel trees over the years, see And for Jack Ohman’s take in yesterday’s
Sacramento Bee on the subject of the life after death in the tree world, go to

Don’t forget that Steven Sanchez and Heather Judy will be reading at Avid Reader at Tower today, 2pm. Or head up to Placerville to hear Katy Brown and Loch Henson read at the Love Birds Coffee and Tea Co., 1pm. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about this and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.


 Rest in peace, Mighty Giant.

Photos in this column can be enlarged by clicking on them once,
then click on the X in the top right corner to come back
to Medusa.