Exposing the Tunnel Through the Other World of 2,000-Year-Old Redwoods in California’s Northern Regi

A scattering of the oldest redwoods and gigantic sequoias in the world are scattered throughout the northern regions of California, reaching for the heavens like something from Tolkien’s universe.

These enormous trees can reach heights of over 100 meters and ages of over 3,000 years. Over time, their trunks have expanded to the point where enterprising residents are able to hollow out the center to construct incredible drive-through trees.

And what’s even more remarkable about these otherworldly caverns is that some of these trees continue to flourish despite having their bases hollowed out.

According to Amazing Planet, the first drive-through tree was constructed in 1875 at Tuolumne Grove in Yosemite National Park to promote tourism by charging visitors to travel beneath it. It was carved from a gigantic sequoia that was 2,500 years old, struck by lightning, and then chopped down and stripped of its bark.

In a practice that continues to this day, vacationers would drive their classic automobiles through the remarkable structures. As time progressed, more hollowed-out trees were created, and fees were assessed to travelers who drove through the tunnels.

Due to environmental concerns, drive-through trees are no longer manufactured, but visitors to California’s national parks can still admire the meticulously preserved remnants of a bygone era.

To promote tourism, the first of these drive-through trees was constructed in 1875 at Tuolumne Grove (pictured) in Yosemite National Park.

According to legend, the angled aperture of the Shire drive-through tree in Myers Flat formed organically. Today, it requires support from cables.

Above is a photograph from the 1930s showing a vehicle traveling through the Wawona tree in the Mariposa Grove of Yosemite National Park.

There have been drive-through trees since the 1800s. On the left is an 1880 photograph of a horse-drawn carriage passing through the Wawona tree, while on the right is a 1923 photograph of an automobile passing through the same tunnel.

Wawna tree was widely recognized. On the left is an up-to-date photograph of President Theodore Roosevelt traveling through the tree’s tunnel, while on the right is an 1890 photograph of a man standing beneath the massive tunnel.

In 1969, a severe tempest in the region caused the Wawona Tree to topple, as depicted in the photographs on the left and right. It is now referred to as the Fallen Tunnel Tree.

The Chandelier tree in Leggett, approximately 180 miles north of the San Francisco Bay Area, is located within a private grove. In 1937, an enormous tunnel was excavated.

The name of the 2,400-year-old Chandelier tree is derived from the way its branches (pictured left and right) resemble chandeliers.

The success of the Tuolumne Grove tree as a tourist attraction prompted other entrepreneurs to bore out similar trees.

A current image of the Wawona tree depicting visitors queuing outside the tree’s tunnel as vehicles pass through it one by one.

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