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...my earliest personal recollection of knowing about this tree is from National Geographic magazine, and books. Did anybody else hear about this? I only just found out a few minutes ago

This is not the famous one from Yellowstone, however.

This is just a quick comment, but the July 1964 issue of NGM shows 2 (of 3) of the sequoia's that were known for being tunnel, or "drive-through" trees. 

see here, NGM:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/01/tunnel-tree-pioneer-cabi...

NPS:

https://www.nps.gov/seki/faqtunnel.htm

and, AP Press:

http://www.msn.com/en-us/weather/topstories/fans-mourn-death-of-cal... 

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I didn't know about this until your post.  So sad.

Quite so... //sigh//

Actually had a picture taken of me next to that tree in 2007.  Times are a changing.

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