California State Parks Supervising Ranger Tony Tealdi pauses by the roots of the fallen Pioneer Cabin Tree at Calaveras Big Trees State Park, Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, in Arnold, Calif. Famous for a "drive-thru" hole carved into its trunk, the giant sequoia was toppled over by a massive storm. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli/Michael Brown via AP)
“Drive-thru” sequoia brought down by storm
January 13, 2017
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Fans are mourning a giant sequoia in California. It is famous for a "drive-thru" hole carved into its trunk. A huge storm toppled the mighty tree.
The tree shattered when it went down Jan. 8. That is what Calaveras Big Trees State Park volunteer Jim Allday said.
"It was majestic," he said. "Now it's basically a pile of rubble."
A tunnel was carved into the tree's trunk in the 1880s. It allowed tourists to pass through. It weakened the giant. The tunnel used to let cars pass. But only pedestrians crossed in recent decades.
Generations of locals and tourists have visited the tree. They posed for photos and carved their names into it. After it fell, many took to social media, posting their memories of the tree.
"It is kind of like someone in the family has died," said Joyce Brown. She is a 65-year-old retired middle school teacher. She has been visiting the tree since she was 12. She owns a cabin in nearby Arnold.
Brown said four generations of her family spent a lot of hours at the tree. They often took out-of-town visitors there. Some of those visitors came from as far away as Turkey.
"Everyone who went there was shocked at how big a tree could be," she said. "As a child you think you had come to a land of giants, that there must be giant people and giant animals living there because of the diameter of these trees."
Sumner Crawford remembers every detail of his first visit to the tree. He first saw it as a child in the 1990s.
"I remember I was walking through the tree and thinking, 'I am inside of the tree right now!'" he said. "It was madness."
He was stunned by the sequoia's size. When his family of four tried to join hands around the tree, they discovered they couldn't even come close.
"It was so different and so odd," said Crawford. He grew up on a farm in Virginia. He now lives in Charleston, South Carolina. He recently visited the tree again. He relived those memories.
"I feel like it is part of my personal history. So it is a bummer to see it go," he said.
John Ripper is a 55-year-old printer in Northville, Michigan. He said he and his wife visited the tree in May 2015.
"I was blown away," Ripper said. "I have traveled to 70 countries. But that particular tree and being able to walk underneath it and touch it was quite a memorable moment. And something I won't soon forget."
Ripper said he can't believe such a huge and sturdy-looking tree was felled by a storm.
"In the blink of an eye, it is gone," he said. "There's this giant tree everyone remembers. And it is going to be laying there in plain sight. The dead giant."
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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How could a car fit through a tree?
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