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Iconic 1,000-year-old Pioneer Cabin tree collapses as deadly storm blasts California

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The famed Pioneer Cabin tree, known for its hollow center that allowed cars to pass through, collapsed during the intense storm that blasted California with heavy rain.

The giant sequoia was located in the Calaveras Big Trees State Park in Calaveras County, about 80 miles southeast of Sacramento.

collapsed pioneer cabin tree cali storm

A park volunteer found the collapsed iconic tree on Sunday, Jan. 8. (Facebook photo/Calaveras Big Trees Association/Jim Allday)

The tree was a popular tourist site since the 1880s when a group of pioneers carved out the center. It became an iconic part of the state park. Until recently, cars were allowed to drive through.

Jim Allday, a park volunteer, found the collapsed tree on Sunday as a major storm barreled over central and northern California.

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A healthy Pioneer Cabin tree stands in Calaveras Big Trees State Park. (Photo/Amber Rack)

"When I went out there (Sunday afternoon), the trail was literally a river; the trail is washed out," Allday said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. "I could see the tree on the ground. It looked like it was laying in a pond or lake with a river running through it."

The tree has shallow roots and its health has been deteriorating, Allday said.

According to the Calaveras Big Trees Association's Facebook page, "the storm was just too much" for the famed Sequoia, that was believed to be possibly more than 1,000 years old.

People quickly took to the park's Facebook page to share remorse for the fallen tree. Dozens posted photos of recent visits.

Strong winds, torrential rain and mountain snow slammed the northern half of California and western Nevada over the weekend. More than 40,000 lost power in the San Francisco area on Sunday. Winds gusted past 60 mph at times.

The heavy rain led to rising rivers and streams. In Carmel Valley, California, a breached levee along the Carmel River forced dozens of nearby residents to evacuate. Evacuations also took place in Carson City, Nevada, on Sunday as the Carson River rose past its banks.

One woman was killed on a golf course in San Ramon, California, about 30 miles east of San Francisco, on Saturday after she was hit by a falling tree.

Life-threatening flooding will continue to wallop northern and central California into the middle of the week.