Copyright 2012 - 2017 by Mario Vaden
UPDATE !! 296 miles east, Calaveras Pioneer Cabin Tree collapsed during a storm Sunday, January 8, 2017. It was a giant sequoia. Please consider it's demise in relation to my question about potential weakness of the coast redwoods Shrine Tree. I reviewed my photos from both sides of the Pioneer Cabin giant sequioa and determined the hole carved was inconsequential to it's longevity. It probably would have fallen anyway even if the hole was not cut. I posted two photos at the end of the page. One from 2012 and one late 1800's. Close inspection of my photos shows the interior was already burned, damaged and hollow. The opposite side has a gargantuan wound far above the opening that looks completely naturally caused. It was already weak during the 1800's. I have arborist experience back to 1980 and know redwood forests. I think cutting holes is rediculous, but it's fair to convey the opinion that the collapse was not caused by men cutting the hole.
Note: measurements for all three of these redwoods were measured by a Certified Arborist (M. D. Vaden) using laser rangefinders. The same kind we used for the LiDAR coast redwood measuring project in Redwood National Park and Redwood National and State Parks.
March, 24, 2016: added a new section "Tourist Trap or Death Trap?" for one of these coast redwoods
There are three Drive-Through redwoods near Avenue of the Giants and Klamath, California. All of them are privately owned. These are redwoods which were carved or tunneled-out for passage of automobiles, motorcycles and people. Tourists seem to find amusement from these, paying a few dollars to drive one time through a hole and talk about it to their family and friends.
The Chandelier redwood is near Leggett, the Shrine redwood at Meyers Flat, and the Drive Thru redwood is in Klamath.
Of those three, the Shrine redwood has become so short and damaged that I refer to it as Humboldt's drive-through "stump".
Tour Thru Redwood
The Tour Thru redwood in Klamath is just a couple of minutes from Highway 101, up on a small hill. There is not much else to see there except for a few gifts and a cross-cut section taken from a large redwood log showing rings dating back many centuries. There is a small admission fee which varies whether you walk in or drive in. The height of this one measured 165 feet with a laser rangefinder in summer of 2010. It's an attractive redwood in a quaint setting.
Take the Terwer Valley exit off Highway 101 on the north end of the Klamath bridge. 430 Highway 169, Klamath, CA 95548
Photo: Tour Thru redwood in Klamath
Chandelier Redwood *****
This is probably the most photogenic of all the drive-through redwoods. Among all 3 drive-through redwoods, I thought this one is by far the best. It's the tallest, the largest, and has the most interesting trunk and stem structure. It's also in a park like setting that has some really big redwoods along the road coming in. If there were a rating scale of 1 - 10 for drive through redwoods, this would be a 9 and the other two to the north, maybe a 3 and a 5
Located in Leggett, CA.
The sign on this redwood says 315 feet. Someone with a lot of redwood measuring experience emailed here that they got 275 ft. and close to 16 ft. diameter at dbh. Any 21' diameter claimed would have to be the widest possible base near the ground. If you look at several photos and keep in mind the opening is about 7 feet wide, the 16 ft. diameter at dbh should be evident. I measured this one November 2012 with a Impulse 200LR and got 276 ft. from top to the downhill side base of the trunk. More information: Chandelier Redwood
67402 Drive Thru Tree Road, Leggett, CA 95585 - Phone: 707-925-6363
The private park property actually reaches over to Hy. 101 but you will need to make a couple of quick turns where Hy. 1 meets Hy. 101. But that's to go down route 270 and parallel 101, not to proceed on Hy. 1. Because the Chandelier drive-through redwood is only 1000 to 2000 ft. distance from Hy. 101 as the crow flies.
I didn't bother to wrap a tape around the trunk, but it's evident the trunk was no 21 ft. diameter like the sign says. Maybe at ground level to inflate the numbers. But diameters are supposed to be measured at chest high or "dbh" which is 4.5 ft. above ground level. If you look at photos taken, and the center hole is 6' to 7' wide inside, you can tell there's much less than 7' extra wood and bark on each side of the hole.
Photo: Chandelier Redwood at Leggett
Shrine Redwood @ 109 ft. tall
Humboldt's drive through "STUMP"
This one is located in Meyers Flat, and may be the most battered looking of the 3 drive through redwoods. I think the wood has a lot of character with all the wounds remaining after enduring centuries of wind, rain and decay. The trunk has quite the lean, held with a cable.
This one also has a small fee. And there are more interesting things for children and adults to look around the property.
Years ago I thought the relic factor made up for the shorter stature and scars of time. But now I question this redwoods safety and recommend that everybody keep their cars, family and friends away from it.
Read "Tourist Trap" or Death Trap" ? below for clarification.
Even as late as 2015, the sign said 275 ft. tall, but the actual height was 136 ft. (2010). Then in 2016, using a laser, it was down to just 109 ft. tall.
Map: 13708 Avenue of the Giants, Meyers, Flat, CA.
Shrine Redwood - Tourist Trap or "Death Trap" ?
All three photos below are Shrine redwood in Myers Flat. Two photos from 2010. The other photo taken 2016 outside the fence. It's obvious how short it really is. The redwood is riddled with holes and breakage. March 2016, I measured again. The total height measured only 109 feet
That means it lost 27 feet in 2016.
The March 2016 visit confirmed my belief this redwood should be shut down as an attraction and maybe dropped to the ground. The Shrine redwood must have an end. And it will either break at night or break during the day. It's 50% chance for either one. Not only is it cracked with a huge hole through the base, but it's also hollow up the center all the way to the shattered top.
Presently, I would be willing to walk through it but if you paid me generously to set up a tent and stay there for 7 consecutive days, I doubt I would take your offer. Not the way the redwood looks and is rigged at the moment. If you think I'm kidding, I'm not. Did you ever read about Steve Sillett (researcher) camping up in a redwood overnight with a couple guys one night? The redwood blew over a few months later. And they had no visual "red flags' either.
It would not surprise me if the Shrine redwood fell, hurt somebody, then made lots of bad news publicity that would hurt business for the other two redwoods that appear to be in much better shape. Hopefully not. But if the Shrine redwood were in someone's yard and they called me for an arborist report, I would declare it a hazard (see 19 Signs of Hazard)
The difference with the other redwoods is they appear to be growing new tissue while the Shrine redwood is declining, weakening and disintegrating.
The photo below shows the Pioneer Cabin Tree at Calaveras Big Tree State Park in the giant sequoia forest, back in 2012. This is the giant sequoia that collapsed into a pile of rubble, January 2017. This image was taken on a trip when I joined Michael Taylor and Mike Hanuschik in surrounding forests to look for potential world record pines. We stopped by the park for a tour since our lodging was in Arnold, CA