US Capitol Christmas Tree News

Twas the day of the Tree Cuttting

Friday, November 06, 2020

Dana Gardunio is a District Ranger for the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests, Ouray Ranger District. She is a project lead of this year's U.S Capitol Christmas Tree and read this poem as a part of Nov. 5 tree cutting ceremony. Enjoy!

Twas the day of the cutting, when all through the forest
Not a creature was stirring, not even a tourist;
The saws were staged by the tree with care,
In hopes that the crowd soon would be there;
Coloradans were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of Christmas trees danced in their heads;
And Chad in his 'kerchief, and me in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for our long winter nap,
When out on the forest there arose such a clatter,
We sprang from our offices to see what was the matter.
Away to the Plateau we flew like a flash,
Hiked over the Divide Road and climbed over the slash.
The sunlight shining on the new-fallen snow,
Gave a luster of many a speaker below;
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But an 80 ft trailer all loaded with gear,
With a little old logger so lively and merry,
I knew in a moment he must be Sawyer Perry.
More rapid than eagles his swampers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of Mt. Sneffels! to the top of the Grand Mesa tall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away to Washington, DC all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild snowstorm fly,
The sleigh crossed Colorado, a state that’s mile high;
Across the Rockies the elves they flew
With the sleigh full of trees, and ornaments too—
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the news
“Experience Your Nature,” any adventure you choose
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the highway Cathy Ritter and Jodi Massey came with a bound.
They were dressed all in outdoor gear, from their heads to their toes,
And their clothes were all branded with Capitol Christmas Tree logos;
A bundle of sponsors they had flung on their backs,
And they looked like hikers just opening their packs.
Their eyes—how they twinkled! their dimples, how merry!
Their cheeks were like roses, their noses like a cherry!
Now the cranes, their cables were drawn up like a bow,
To load the tree on the “sleigh” and get ready to go;
The cradle held the tree tightly in its teeth,
And the banner, it encircled the tree like a wreath;
The drivers, oh how they were so bright and jolly,
Spreading Christmas joy while singing “deck the halls with boughs of holly.”
Over 4 million miles of road time, they were experienced old elfs,
And I grinned when I saw them, in spite of myself;
A wink of their eyes and a twist of the head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
Their team spoke not a word, but went straight to their work,
And drove the tree right into DC; then turned with a jerk;
And laying a finger aside of their nose,
And giving a nod, up on the West Lawn the tree rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all went like the down of a thistle.
But I heard them exclaim, as they drove out of sight—
“Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good night!”

Apex Transportation to Haul the 2020 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Press Release – The holiday season will be a little brighter this year with the help of Apex Transportation, as it takes on the role of transporting the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree to Washington, D.C. An annual gift to the nation, the 2020 tree will make its way to the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol building from the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests in Colorado.

Apex Transportation was chosen as the hauler for this year’s tree at the recommendation of Great West Casualty Company and based on industry reputation in Colorado, according to Bruce Ward, president of Choose Outdoors, the non-profit partner that assists USDA Forest Service with coordinating the annual public engagement initiative. The tree will be harvested in early November before making the in-state and cross country journey, arriving at the U.S. Capitol in late November. The tree will be decorated with thousands of ornaments made by Coloradans and will light up the nation’s Capitol throughout December.

Opening its doors in 1996, Apex Transportation had humble beginnings with four trucks, a handful of employees, and ambition. With more than 65 trucks and nearing 90 employees, Apex maintains its success by remembering those early days creating strong relationships within the industry and nurturing a family-like atmosphere that keeps us rolling. With locations in Denver and Pueblo, Colorado, Apex serves the state of Colorado and surrounding states with the ability to go anywhere they are needed. It has been recognized with numerous awards from the Colorado Motor Carriers Association, along with the Pinnacol Assurance Workplace Safety Award and Great West Fleet Safety Awards.

“Being selected to be a part of such a high profile and important symbol for the American people is truly exciting beyond words for us at Apex Transportation,” said Walt Schattinger, president of Apex Transportation. “We are humbled by the graciousness of those who chose us and value their belief and trust in Apex with this incredible adventure. We are deeply honored to have the opportunity to represent the beauty of our state, the integrity of our company and tradition of our country.”

The tree will be in great hands with two Apex employees who will ensure the precious cargo is safely delivered. Theron Schmalzried has 42 years and 4 million miles of experience under his belt. He has received numerous awards during his 23 years with Apex, the most recent being the Long Haul Driver of the Month in September 2019. William “Butch” Hanna has been driving for 41 years, including 17 with Apex Transportation. With more than 105,000 hours, he also has numerous internal awards, including Short Haul Driver of the month in October 2019.

Kenworth Truck Company returns for a seventh year as a sponsor of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree program. A specially decaled Kenworth T680 will transport the 50th U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree provided by the USDA Forest Service. Additional transportation partners supporting the journey include Spireon, Inc., Hale Truck and Trailer, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Truckload Carriers Association, TravelCenters of America and LexisNexis VitalChek Network, Inc.

“The annual journey is only possible with the help of strong partnerships throughout Colorado and beyond state lines,” said Dana Gurdunio, District Ranger, GMUG National Forests. “We’re grateful for the resources Apex Transportation, Kenworth Truck Company and all our partners are providing to help make this the best tour to date.”

For more information on how to get involved, please visit the GMUG National Forests website at Follow along the tree’s journey at




U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Selected Virtually

Thursday, September 10, 2020


Press Release - Each year, one of the nation’s national forests provides the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, which graces the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. throughout the holiday season. The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests, in partnership with the Architect of the Capitol, announced that this year’s U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree will be harvested from the Uncompahgre Plateau on the Ouray Ranger District.

The perfect Capitol Christmas Tree must meet specific criteria. The selected Engelmann Spruce stands 55’ tall and 25’ wide and was chosen virtually from among 10 candidates. “The challenge in selecting a tree for the West Lawn is making sure it is symmetrical, full and in the perfect scale to gracefully adorn the U.S. Capitol. In a normal year, we scour the forest for this special tree. Due to the pandemic, we used videos, pictures and measurements supplied by the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests to identify a suitable Engelmann Spruce that all Coloradans can be proud of,” said Jim Kaufmann, Director of Capitol Grounds and Arboretum for the Architect of the Capitol.

The tree will be harvested in early November before making its journey to the East Coast, arriving at the U.S. Capitol in late November. The Capitol Grounds and Arboretum team will secure and decorate the tree with thousands of handcrafted ornaments from the people of Colorful Colorado. The tree will be lit in early December 2020; the annual lighting of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is a time-honored tradition of more than 50 years.

Choose Outdoors, Colorado Tourism and a host of other partners, sponsors, and volunteers are contributing funding and in-kind support of the project. GMUG Forest Supervisor Chad Stewart noted that it’s been a true collaborative effort so far. “This year’s tree selection was a little nonconventional, but we are very excited to have the tree selected and look forward to the next phase of the project, planning the tree cutting ceremony,” he said.

For more information on how to get involved, please visit the GMUG National Forest website. To learn more about the history of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, please visit the Architect of the Capitol website.