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A Road Trip Highlight – Leggett’s Drive-Through Chandelier Tree

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Written By Lakeisha Ethans

Heritage Gardener with Grafting Expertise

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Home » Ancient & Remarkable Trees » A Road Trip Highlight – Leggett’s Drive-Through Chandelier Tree

In the lush landscape of Leggett, California, stands a monumental natural wonder known as the Chandelier Tree, also popularly referred to as the Drive-Through Tree.

This towering coast redwood reaches an impressive height of 276 feet and features a man-made curiosity—a tunnel carved right through its base, allowing cars to drive through and experience this giant from within.

The Chandelier Tree Drive Thru

This tree’s journey began over 2,400 years ago as it grew silently, eventually earning the name “Chandelier Tree” for its wide, sweeping branches that resemble the elegant arms of a chandelier, starting their spread 100 feet above the forest floor.

The tunnel through the tree was carved in the late 1930s, aiming to draw visitors traveling along the Redwood Highway.

This gateway, measuring 6 feet in width and just over 6 feet in height, was designed to accommodate the cars of that era, transforming the tree into a blend of natural splendor and crafted spectacle.

Chandelier Tree in 1941 With old Ford Vehicle
Chandelier Tree in 1941 – TigerPaw2154, CC BY-SA 3.0 DEED, via Wikimedia Commons

The Chandelier Tree stands on land first acquired by Charles and Hazel Underwood in 1921.

By the 1960s, the site had expanded to include lodging and recreational facilities, making it a full-fledged tourist destination.

Today, hundreds of visitors are drawn daily during the peak summer months, each paying a fee to witness this fusion of human ingenuity and the raw power of nature.

The tree’s story is part of a larger narrative concerning America’s tunnel trees, created to boost automobile tourism at the expense of the trees’ health.

The Chandelier Tree, Leggett, CA

While some of these giants have fallen, like the Wawona Tree in Yosemite, others still stand, serving as historic passages through time.

Despite the past practices that threatened their survival, the Chandelier Tree continues to stand tall, a living symbol of nature’s resilience and mankind’s creativity.

It remains a beloved feature of the Drive-Thru Tree Park, encapsulating the history and majesty of the Redwood Empire.

Digging Deeper

Location

The Chandelier Tree, also known as the Drive-Thru Tree, is located at Drive-Thru Tree Park, 67402 Drive Thru Tree Road, Leggett, CA 95585, USA.

Type of Tree

This 276-foot-tall Coast Redwood, known scientifically as Sequoia sempervirens, is celebrated for its immense size and the distinctive tunnel carved through its base.

Is the Chandelier Tree Still Alive?

Despite the modifications it has undergone, the Chandelier Tree continues to thrive, demonstrating the remarkable resilience of coast redwoods.

Descendants

Around the base of the Chandelier Tree, younger redwoods flourish, seeded from the towering parent, ensuring the legacy of this forest giant continues.

Can You Visit It?

Visitors are welcomed year-round to experience the Chandelier Tree, with a modest entrance fee, except on Christmas and Thanksgiving when the park takes a brief pause.

Conservation

Efforts to maintain the health and integrity of the Chandelier Tree are ongoing, focusing on balancing visitor access with the essential preservation of this ancient organism.

Legacy

The Chandelier Tree remains a cherished landmark, symbolizing the intersection of natural history and human curiosity, inspiring awe and stewardship in equal measure.

Want More?

Are you intrigued by the historical significance of the Chandelier Tree?

Discover other extraordinary trees worldwide.

Continue your exploration with the Liberty Tree, an emblem of American independence.

Venture to Sierra Leone to see the Cotton Tree, a resilient symbol that has stood firm through centuries until recently.

Stroll beneath the Emancipation Oak, whose vast branches echo the echoes of freedom, and gaze upon the El Árbol del Tule in Mexico, renowned for its massive trunk, a true wonder of the natural world.

Despite challenges, the Lahaina Banyan Tree in Hawaii flourishes, attracting visitors with its grand presence and storied past.

Sources – Wikipedia

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Lakeisha Ethans

Heritage Gardener with Grafting Expertise

Lakeisha grew up in East Africa, literally surrounded by nature which sparked her interest in learning more about trees and plants from a very young age. She belongs to a family of gardeners, so for her, gardening is a way of life, a tradition she’s proud to uphold. As a self-taught gardener, Lakeisha has successfully grafted trees to produce hybrids for gardens and landscapes. When she’s not gardening, she’s writing about her experience with nature or watching baking fails!