The Pioneer Tunnel Tree that fell in 2017 will be studied by scientists

The iconic Pioneer Tunnel Tree that was felled on Jan. 8, 2017 by a storm will be studied by scientists. Sections of the tree have been cut with a 6-foot chainsaw and were moved to an enclosed location to dry for six months. Researchers plan to determine the giant sequoia’s exact age, fire and climate history.

A brief history of the tree

The park that contains the Tunnel tree was discovered by a hunter named Augustus T. Dowd in 1850. The tree was originally 205 feet tall and was 19 feet in diameter, but lightning strikes in the 1800s knocked off a large section of the crown and opened the trees side.

In 1881, the base of the tree was squared off to become the Pioneer Tunnel Tree. It was only about 100 feet tall at that time.

A year ago, a combination of trunk decay, root decay, and stormwater runoff brought down the Pioneer Tunnel Tree at its base. The tree shattered when it fell and crushed a nearby cedar tree. No one was hurt.