There was a claim by loggers in California that they once cut down a 380 foot Sequoia tree in 1912. While there is not concrete evidence of this, it would be by far the tallest tree ever cut down if it were true.
There can be a big difference between big tree and tall trees. Your question is about big trees.
The biggest trees ever cut down were probably coast redwoods. Presently, the largest coast redwood is roughly 40,000 cubic feet of wood, and the largest tree in the world, General Sherman the giant Sequioia, is near 50,000 cubic feet of wood.
But the Blue Lake Museum in California has a photograph, measurements and a letter documenting a 60,000 to 70,000 cubic foot coast redwood that fell down in the early 1900s. Reference are rare, but you can search and find online the:
“Crannell Creek” Giant or Crannell Creek Redwood
It would have been about 15% larger than the largest tree today. There are measurements on record, once published around 1905, for a Lindsey Creek tree or Lindsey Creek redwood (coast redwood), of near 90,000 cubic feet. That would make it almost as big as two General Shermans combined into one tree.
Those were exceptionally large specimens, and not the average.
I hate to say this, but ancient, enormous trees are being cut down all the time. Check out my GreenAnswers article “Redwood Forest a Continuing Project,” and you’ll see what I mean. Although many huge trees are protected from logging by the National Park Service, not all huge, old-growth forests are so lucky. Many times, independent special-interest groups have to make the effort to save such trees. So if you interested, help them out! The Save the Redwoods League is a great place to start, as is the EPIC. See the links below.
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