What Happened To The Famous Drive-Through Redwood Tree?

If you’ve ever driven along the Redwood Highway in Northern California, you may have stopped to see the famous Chandelier Tree. This massive coast redwood had a tunnel carved through its base wide enough to drive a car through, making it an iconic roadside attraction for decades.

If you’re wondering what happened to this unique tree, here’s a quick answer: The Chandelier Tree tragically fell during a storm in January 2017 at the age of more than 1,000 years old. Its collapse marked the end of an era along the historic Redwood Highway.

The History and Significance of the Chandelier Tree

The Chandelier Tree, located in Leggett, California, is a famous redwood tree that has captivated tourists and nature enthusiasts for decades. Its unique feature of a drive-through tunnel carved into its trunk has made it an iconic landmark on the famous Highway 101.

Let’s delve into the history and significance of this magnificent tree.

When the tree was hollowed out to create a drive-through tunnel

The Chandelier Tree’s transformation into a drive-through tunnel occurred in the early 1930s. At the time, the concept of drive-through attractions was gaining popularity, and the idea of creating a tunnel through a giant redwood tree seemed both innovative and whimsical.

The trunk of the Chandelier Tree was carefully hollowed out, leaving enough space for vehicles to pass through. This feat of engineering was an impressive accomplishment, showcasing human ingenuity and the ability to harmonize with nature.

Why it was given the name ‘Chandelier Tree’

The Chandelier Tree owes its name to the unique chandelier-like branches that extend from its crown. These branches, which resemble the arms of a chandelier, create a mesmerizing spectacle when illuminated by sunlight.

The name perfectly captures the tree’s grandeur and adds to its allure for visitors.

How it became a popular tourist destination over time

Over the years, the Chandelier Tree has grown in popularity and become a must-visit destination for tourists traveling along the picturesque Highway 101. Its fame has spread through word of mouth, travel blogs, and social media, attracting visitors from all over the world.

The experience of driving through the tree’s massive trunk, surrounded by towering redwoods, creates a sense of awe and wonder. It offers a unique opportunity to connect with nature while enjoying a thrilling adventure.

The Chandelier Tree’s popularity has also been fueled by its inclusion in numerous travel guides and documentaries. Its appearance in films and television shows has further cemented its status as an iconic landmark.

Visitors are often drawn to the tree’s rich history and the stories of those who have passed through its tunnel.

How the Tree Met its Demise in the Storm of 2017

The famous drive-through redwood tree, a beloved attraction for tourists and nature enthusiasts alike, met its unfortunate demise during a powerful storm in 2017. The storm, which brought heavy rain and strong winds, proved to be too much for the ancient tree to withstand.

The powerful storm that brought the ancient tree down

The storm that caused the downfall of the drive-through redwood tree was one of the most severe in recent history. With wind speeds reaching over 70 miles per hour and torrential rain pouring down, the tree’s weakened roots and compromised structural integrity simply couldn’t withstand the forces of nature.

The combination of saturated soil and strong gusts of wind proved to be a fatal combination for the once majestic tree.

Eyewitness accounts of the tree falling

Witnesses who were present during the storm recall the harrowing moment when the drive-through redwood tree came crashing down. Some described it as a thunderous roar, while others compared it to the sound of a giant falling.

The tree, which had stood tall for centuries, succumbed to the relentless power of the storm, leaving onlookers in awe of nature’s might.

The aftermath and damage caused

The fallen drive-through redwood tree caused significant damage in its wake. It blocked roads and pathways, disrupting the flow of traffic and inconveniencing visitors to the area. Cleanup efforts were immediately initiated to remove the massive tree from the roadway and restore access to the affected areas.

While the loss of the famous drive-through redwood tree is undoubtedly a sad event, it serves as a reminder of the impermanence of nature. Despite its demise, the memory of the tree and the joy it brought to countless visitors will live on.

And perhaps, in time, a new attraction will rise in its place, capturing the hearts of future generations.

The Legacy and Loss of the Beloved Chandelier Tree

Reactions from visitors who loved the drive-through tree

For decades, the famous drive-through redwood tree, known as the Chandelier Tree, brought joy and wonder to visitors from all over the world. Its massive trunk with a hollowed-out center provided a unique opportunity for cars to drive through, creating an unforgettable experience.

People would often roll down their windows and marvel at the towering branches above them, taking pictures and creating lasting memories.

Visitors expressed their deep affection for the Chandelier Tree, describing it as a magical and awe-inspiring sight. Many shared their stories on social media, reminiscing about family road trips and childhood adventures.

The tree had become a symbol of nature’s grandeur and the beauty of the Redwood Forest.

With the news of the tree’s demise, reactions from visitors have been mixed. Some express sadness and a sense of loss, mourning the end of an era. Others share their gratitude for having been able to experience the drive-through tree before it fell.

The Chandelier Tree holds a special place in the hearts of those who were lucky enough to pass through its majestic branches.

Impact on the local community and economy

The Chandelier Tree was not only a beloved attraction for tourists but also a significant source of revenue for the local community. The tree’s popularity drew visitors from far and wide, contributing to the local economy through tourism and hospitality industries.

Restaurants, hotels, and souvenir shops thrived as a result of the steady stream of tourists who came to see the iconic tree.

With the loss of the Chandelier Tree, the local community faces the challenge of finding alternative attractions to keep visitors engaged and coming back. Efforts are underway to promote other natural wonders in the area, such as hiking trails, scenic viewpoints, and interpretive centers.

The hope is that these attractions can fill the void left by the absence of the drive-through tree and continue to support the local economy.

Can fallen redwoods regrow? The lifespan of coast redwoods

While the Chandelier Tree may be gone, there is hope for new growth in the Redwood Forest. Fallen redwoods have the remarkable ability to regenerate and give life to new trees. When a redwood falls, it creates a nursery for seedlings to sprout and take root in the nutrient-rich soil.

These seedlings can eventually grow into towering giants, continuing the legacy of the ancient redwood forest.

The lifespan of coast redwoods is awe-inspiring. These majestic trees can live for over 2,000 years, with some reaching heights of more than 350 feet. They have adapted to withstand wildfires, pests, and diseases, making them resilient and long-lasting.

The Chandelier Tree, estimated to be around 2,400 years old, had witnessed centuries of history and natural phenomena, making its fall all the more significant.

As we reflect on the legacy and loss of the Chandelier Tree, let us also celebrate the enduring spirit of the coast redwoods. Their ability to regrow and thrive gives us hope for the future, reminding us of the resilience of nature and the importance of preserving these magnificent forests for generations to come.


The collapsed Chandelier Tree now lies as a monument along the Redwood Highway, its tunnel forever closed yet still evoking wonder. Its demise represents the lost history and tradition of the unique drive-through redwoods that once punctuated California’s northern roads.

Though fallen, the Chandelier Tree remains in death a testament to the awe-inspiring, yet delicate, majesty of the ancient coast redwoods.

Similar Posts