One of our early winter storms this year has toppled a California’s giant: the iconic Pioneer Cabin Tree in Calaveras Big Trees State Park. The tree, more than an 1000 years old, was famous for the car tunnel in its trunk that had been carved out more than 100 years ago.
The tree tragedy made us think of another drive-through tree, the Wawona Tree, memorialized on one of the 5,000+ beautiful and historic wine labels collected by former UC Davis professor Maynard Amerine. The Wawona Tree met a similar fate in the winter of 1969. In fact, the Pioneer Cabin Tree was carved to compete with the Wawona. Both tunnels had been created by carving into a fire scar – a wound on the tree’s bark leftover from forest fire.
While these two drive-through trees are sadly gone, the memory of the Wawona lives on in the wine label collection, and luckily we still have a forest more to protect and raise a glass (in gratitude) to.