The famous tunneled sequoia tree can be found in the Mariposa Grove of Yosemite National Park. This famous sequoia, the Wawona Tree, fell over in early 1969 under an estimated two-ton load of snow on its crown. The giant sequoia is estimated to have been 2,300 years old. It is now known as the Fallen Tunnel Tree.
A tunnel was cut through the tree in 1881, enlarging an existing fire scar. Two men were paid $75 for the job. The tree had a slight lean, which increased when the tunnel was completed. The tree eventually became a popular tourist attraction. Often travelers would come to have their picture taken either driving through it or standing underneath the tree. Throughout its history thousands of pictures were taken of it by tourists; it was photographed accommodating everything from horse-drawn carriages in the late nineteenth century to automobiles in the 1960s.
When our national parks were young, cutting tunnels through sequoia trees was a way to popularize the parks and gain support for their protection. In those early days, national parks usually were managed to protect individual features rather than to protect the integrity of the complete environment. Today, we realize that our national parks represent some of the last primeval landscapes in America, and our goal in the parks is to allow nature to run its course with as little interference from humans as possible. Tunnel trees had their time and place in the early history of our national parks. But today sequoias which are standing healthy and whole are worth far more.