US Capitol Christmas Tree News

From Oregon to D.C.: The ‘People’s Tree’ arrives at the U.S. Capitol for Christmas

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

After more than 3,000 miles, the “People’s Tree” from the Willamette National Forest has arrived at the grounds of the U.S. Capitol in Washington. The tree will be lit during a ceremony on Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 5:00 p.m. EST. The event is free and open to the public. It also will be broadcast on C-SPAN and a live stream available on the Facebook page. 









Rolling into Scottsbluff, NE

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Law Enforcement Play Vital Role in Delivering Tree to D.C.

Friday, November 16, 2018

We are profoundly grateful to the many, many law enforcement officers who provide security and traffic control along our journey. These dedicated men and women from agencies in every community we visit tirelessly steward our passage day and night throughout the tour. We thank you! #uscapitolchristmastree #capitolchristmastree#USForestService

Meet the men hauling the US Capitol Christmas Tree from Oregon to Washington DC

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

From KGW 8Salem Police motorcycle officers blocked traffic at the intersection of 12th and Court streets NE on Tuesday, clearing the way for the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.

Rick Williams, behind the wheel of the 106-foot-long truck and trailer carrying the prized noble fir, made the turn with room to spare.

But he couldn't have done it without an assist from his escorts, a scene replaying over and over as the tree is paraded through Oregon before it heads to Washington, D.C.


"Once we get off the Interstate and get into towns, there's some tight corners," said Williams, founder and CEO of Central Oregon Trucking Company. "But law enforcement is really making it pleasurable and safe for us driving."

The Redmond-based trucking company was chosen to transport the tree on its 3,000-mile journey from Willamette National Forest to the West Lawn.

Salem was the eighth of 23 stops on the tour, with the truck parking in front of the Oregon State Capitol for 1 hour, 40 minutes. Hundreds of people came to see the tree and sign the 50-foot-long banners on each side of the trailer.

Three primary drivers from Central Oregon Trucking will see time behind the wheel, including Williams. Phil Taylor, vice president of fleet maintenance, and Brad Aimone, director of driver safety services, are the others.

Williams said they are honored to be hauling such precious cargo, calling it "the event of a lifetime."

The plan is to have two of them in the cab at all times because visibility of the rear of the trailer can be difficult from the driver's side. It helps to have eyes on it from the passenger side, too.

As stressful as it can be to drive such a long rig, it's also comfortable. The Kenworth W990 is a state-of-the-art truck the company touts as the "perfect fusion of power, luxury, craftsmanship and traditional styling."

"It's similar to driving motorhomes these days as far as the interior and the quietness," Williams said.

The truck and trailer tipped the scales at 53,800 pounds at a weigh station on the way to the tree's next stop in Oregon City.


Williams estimated it will take 900 to 1,000 gallons of fuel to reach their destination. Pilot Flying J is donating the diesel, one of more than 60 local and national partners providing both cash and in-kind donations.

A second truck leaves Thursday carrying 75 smaller companion trees that will decorate government buildings and other public spaces at the U.S. Capitol, and 10,000 ornaments made by Oregonians. It won't be making whistle stops along the way.




Group effort to get Oregon fir tree to West Lawn of U.S. Capitol deserves thanks

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

From Salem Statesman Journal - This week, Duck and Beaver fans, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, boomers and millennials, and new and longtime Oregon residents alike united downtown to cheer for a silvery noble fir tree.

The now-72-foot long tree, which weighs more than seven tons, made a whistle stop in front of Oregon's Capitol before it begins a 3,000-mile trailer ride to the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., where it will be lighted for the holidays.

It's not often a crowd on the steps of Oregon's Capitol agree on anything. But during this inordinately chilly moment in time, Oregonians stood together and celebrated the mammoth fir tree cut from the Willamette National Forest.

The gift from Oregon to our nation appears ready for the trek. Plastic panels allow spectators along the way to view the top 24-feet of the tree adorned with ornaments handmade by Oregonians and other gifts from the Beaver State, including a bag of hazelnuts. The tree is cradled to prevent it from slipping and sliding during the journey.

Some background: Oregon narrows search for perfect Christmas tree for U.S. Capitol

Finding the perfect big tree: The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree has been found in an Oregon forest, but it's a secret

Chopping it down: Oregon's 82-foot noble fir tree for US Capitol comes down without a hitch

Big tree needs big tree skirt: Here's what it takes to quilt a 14-foot Christmas tree skirt for a U.S. Capitol building

Contest winner: Oregon fourth-grader gets to light U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

It has been wrapped with a 250-gallon vinyl bladder (bag) and sealed with a wax ring to keep it watered during the 17-day trip. Soaker hoses placed over the tree are designed to prevent branches from drying out during the trek. 

Capitol Christmas tree visits Bend on way to D.C.

Monday, November 12, 2018

From The BulletinThe U.S. Capitol Christmas tree was on display in the Old Mill District in Bend on Monday, where crowds showed up to see it and sign a banner on the trailer carrying the tree from where it was harvested in the Willamette National Forest to the nation’s capital. The 70-foot-tall noble fir will be stopping in more than 25 communities as it traverses the 3,000-mile path from Oregon to Washington, D.C., a journey that commemorates the 175th anniversary of the Oregon Trail, according to organizers of the project.

Since 1970, a different national forest has been chosen each year to provide the Christmas tree for the U.S. Capitol Building. Oregon was previously selected in 2002, when a Douglas fir from the Umpqua National Forest had the honor.

The tree will be displayed on the west lawn of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., with a public tree-lighting ceremony in early December.

Sweet Home celebrates Capitol Christmas Tree

Friday, November 09, 2018

From Albany Democrat-HeraldChristmas is more than a month away, but Sweet Home hosted a big holiday party Friday, complete with food, drink, music and a lighted parade featuring the Capitol Christmas Tree.

And soon, 22 libraries in towns large and small along the Oregon Trail will receive early Christmas presents from the Sweet Home Public Library.

Library Director Rose Peda said the community is sending a gift box — featuring Honeycrisp apples — to libraries scattered from Albany, Oregon, to Cincinnati, Ohio.

“Grandpa’s Farm in Albany has donated 22 boxes of Honeycrisp apples and we are sending the apples, a poster and two books to libraries in 22 towns along the tree route,” she said.

The books are Debra Hopkinson's “Apples to Oregon” and George Hallowell's “Wagons Ho.”

Peda said "Wagons Ho" will help children across the country imagine what it was like to travel on foot, horseback or in wagons, from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon.

“We are also sending a map of the tree route, program ideas and a poster,” she added.

Peda has been working on the project with Ron Feist of the U.S. Forest Service and her library assistant, Joy Kistner.

The first box of goodies didn’t have to travel far: It was sent to the Albany Public Library on Tuesday afternoon.

Children who visited the library’s booth at Friday's street fair in front of Sweet Home High School were invited to enjoy apples and help assemble a Conestoga wagon, Peda said. The event also featured about 40 food and craft vendors, live music and a lighted parade, followed by a program at the high school auditorium and a concert by the country music duo Cloverdayle.

Peda sent emails to each of the libraries and noted:

"Something big is coming your way!

"We invite you to join us in celebrating the travels of the Capitol Christmas tree. The tree will be traveling along the Oregon Trail and your community is one of the scheduled Whistle Stops for the tree. We will be sending you two books to use for a story time, after school program or family program. ...

"We will also be sending you a box of apples from Grandpa’s Farm, a map of the Oregon Trail highlighting the tree route, some program ideas from Louisiana State Library, and a poster.

"Some of the program ideas include:

  • Children plot the travels of the tree. You could ask them if they were to travel from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon what route would they travel?
  • Having a discussion with the children about what they would have brought on the trail with them."
  • Sweet Home will also send a gift box to Sen. Ron Wyden's office in Washington, D.C. See the online version of this story for a complete list of recipients across the country.


    Libraries that will receive gifts from Sweet Home include:

    Nov. 10: Albany Public Library and Eugene Public Library
    Nov. 11: Oakridge Public Library
    Nov. 12: City of Detroit
    Nov. 13: Salem Public Library
    Nov. 13: Oregon City Public Library and the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center

    Kenworth W990 Begins Transport of U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree to Washington, D.C., Following Harvest

    Tuesday, November 06, 2018


    • The 54th U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree – an 80-foot Noble Fir from Oregon’s Willamette National Forest – has started its nearly 3,000-mile journey to Washington, D.C., following its Nov. 2 harvesting near Sweet Home, Oregon.

      The Oregon Forest Service nominated six trees as candidates for the special honor. The Noble Fir, the first ever to serve as the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, was ultimately selected by a representative of the Architect of the Capitol. “It’s a stunning tree and will certainly represent Oregon well when it makes its way to Washington, D.C. Oregon is the largest producer of Christmas trees in the country, but no other tree will surpass this one, which was found about an hour outside of Sweet Home,” said Nikki Swanson, district ranger, for the Sweet Home Ranger District of the Willamette National Forest.

      On hand and ready for the load was a brand new Kenworth W990, along with members from Central Oregon Truck Company, this year’s designated hauler of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. The company’s CEO Rick Williams; Phil Taylor, vice president of maintenance; and Brad Aimone, director of driver safety & services; watched as the tree was lifted by crane and set on the 80-foot long trailer. Williams, Taylor and Aimone are driving the Kenworth W990 and its special load as a part of an overall company effort that will involve other driving team members from the company. The flatbed carrier transports freight across the 48 continental states and Canada, and purchases its Kenworth trucks from The Papé Group, which is a major sponsor of this year’s tour.

      “It was a great sight. You don’t see an 80-foot tree loaded on a trailer every day, and they had to take great care to secure the branches,” said Rick Williams.

      Once the tree was set on the trailer, securing of the branches began. Taylor drove the Kenworth W990 and traversed the eight miles of logging roads before hitting U.S. Route 20 and Forest Service Road 2044, while Williams drove from there to the tree preparation area in Sweet Home. “The looks we received from other drivers were something else,” said Taylor. “We had so much pride in hauling the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. It was inspiring.”

      Once in Sweet Home, the tree was fitted with a special 200-gallon water bladder – to keep it hydrated, carefully wrapped and boxed. Final preparations were then made for the cross-country transport. The tour, which follows the Oregon Trail in reverse, will officially commence when the tree departs Sweet Home and begins its journey 3,000 miles to the east. Along the way, the tree will stop for 25 community events, helping to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Oregon Trail, and the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act.

      The Kenworth W990 transporting the tree features a distinctive graphics package with a brightly lit and colorfully adorned Christmas Tree next to the U.S. Capitol below the words “From the Oregon Trail to the Capitol Steps.” Featuring a 76-inch mid-rood sleeper, the W990 was spec’d with the PACCAR Powertrain – a PACCAR MX-13 engine rated at 455-hp and 1,650 lb-ft of torque, 12-speed automated transmission, and 40K tandem rear axle. The truck was also specified with the Limited Edition interior, premium GT703 seats and audio system, Kenworth Nav+HD, predictive cruise control, 1800W inverter, 180-degree swivel passenger seat, and Kenworth TruckTech+® remote diagnostics.

      The tour stops begin Monday, Nov. 9, at nearby Sweet Home High School where the tree will be the main event for a parade and street fair. The tour will end Nov. 25 at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, before being delivered to the U.S. Capitol in late November. A special tree lighting ceremony on Dec. 5 will be hosted by the Architect of the Capitol, in conjunction with the U.S. Speaker of the House.

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    Sweet Home Ready to Celebrate U.S. Capital Christmas Tree

    Sunday, November 04, 2018


    From Polk County Itemizer-ObserverEach year a different national forest in the United States is selected to provide a tree to appear on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol for the Christmas season.

    This year, for the first time, the tree was chosen from the Willamette National Forest. It's only the second to come from Oregon.

    On Nov. 2, the tree was cut and prepared for the more than 3,000-mile journey to Washington, D.C., where it will be lit in an official ceremony, which will occur in early December as determined by the Speaker of the House.

    The Sweet Home U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Celebration will take place starting at noon on Nov. 9 at Sweet Home High School, 1651 Long St. Live music, provided by Oregon-based musicians will begin at noon and continue through 5 p.m.

    Cathy Cheshire, Markus Thedford, Praise in 3D, and R & R Country Rock Band will perform, and there will be Christmas Star! Karaoke.

    Sign-ups for Karaoke will be before 3 p.m.

    More than 40 art and craft vendors, some with souvenir items, will be located in the Sweet Home High School cafeteria.

    Food & drinks will be available.

    A lighted night-time parade will begin at 6 p.m. on Main and Long Streets.

    The US Capitol Tree will be the final parade participant. Attendees will have the chance to sign the banner on the sides of the truck to wish the tree well, before it begins its journey to Washington D.C. The Sweet Home Celebration event will finish up with a performance by Cloverdayle at 8 p.m. in the Sweet Home High School Gymnasium.

    Event parking with shuttle service to and from the parade and celebration will be available at designated locations around Sweet Home. Watch for reader board signs to direct.

    After the celebration event in Sweet Home, the tree will be trucked to the Veterans Parade on Nov. 10 in Albany.

    It will then make stops at Cabela's in Springfield, the McKenzie River Ranger Station, Oakridge, Bend, Detroit, the state capitol and Oregon City before heading east on Nov. 14, on its trip across the nation.

    The cross-country trek from Sweet Home to Washington will include stops at more than 25 communities across the nation as it follows the reverse path of the Oregon Trail, in recognition of the 175th anniversary of the establishment of the route.

    For more information, contact the Sweet Home Chamber of Commerce 541-367-6186.


    Oregon noble fir cut down for US Capitol Christmas tree

    Saturday, November 03, 2018

    Reposted from KGW 8 — Jonah Gladney has cut down his share of trees, but seldom such a healthy specimen and never in front of an audience.

    Most of the trees the fire crew supervisor from Stayton encounters are snags and headed for a burn pile, not the West Lawn of the United States Capitol.

    Gladney took time out from leading a crew of wildland firefighters on prescribed burn duty in the Detroit and Sweet Home areas to help harvest the 82-foot-tall noble fir on Friday that will decorate the nation's Capitol during the holidays.

    The tree was supported with two slings from a crane as it was cut, to prevent it from falling and its branches from breaking.

    It's the first time in the 47-year history of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Program that a noble has been selected and the second time Oregon has supplied the tree. A 70-foot Douglas fir from Umpqua National Forest was chosen in 2002.

    During Friday morning's cutting ceremony, 50 lucky Oregonians were able to attend in person, with hard hats on their heads and smartphones in their hands.

    The soggy conditions didn't dampen their spirits as they cheered the moment the tree cracked and swayed free. Dozens of others waited at River Bend County Park for the replay to be shown later on a giant screen.

    The Statesman Journal drone team captured live footage from above. Members from 10 media outlets did the same from the ground.

    Never has so much attention been paid to a tree being felled in Oregon, which has a proud history of logging.

    Gladney, with his wife and two young children among the crowd, called it his "30 seconds of glory."

    With all eyes on him and the tree, he said he felt the pressure "a little bit at first, but then the saw started and it all came naturally."

    Vernon Esplin, the owner of Buena Vista Arbor Care and experienced at crane tree removal, set the stage for Gladney. He climbed to the top to set the rigging and secure the noble. While there, he dropped a line for a measurement.

    The noble was 2 feet taller than officials originally thought and was 28 inches diameter at breast height. Esplin said the cutting team estimated the tree to weigh 14,000 to 16,000 pounds.

    Tracy Beck, forest supervisor with Willamette National Forest, counted 26 rings on one of the souvenir rounds taken 8 feet up the tree and estimated the noble to be about 35 years old.

    The number of spectators, shuttled to the site in rented vans, was limited by the size of the area surrounding the tree and the need to accommodate a crane and supporting equipment provided by Papé and Axis Crane.

    Officials from the Willamette National Forest had planned for and anticipated this moment for more than a year. A shadow team observed and pitched in last year when the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree was harvested in Montana.

    Joanie Schmidgall, a member of that team, said Oregon was able to plan a bigger cutting ceremony, in part because the 79-foot Engelmann spruce from Montana was felled in a more remote area.

    The perfect tree from Oregon was chosen in August from a handful of finalists by the visiting Architect of the Capitol. Oregon foresters, recreation specialists and a botanist presented a list of candidates.

    The location was kept secret until Friday. It took about 50-minute drive to get to the site, including the last 8 miles on a gravel Forest Service road beyond House Rock Campground at an elevation of 3,500 feet.

    Once cut, the tree was lifted by a crane and loaded onto a flatbed truck which got stuck in the mud on a bend in the road on its way out of the forest.

    Heavy equipment will be used Saturday to free to the truck and trailer which will then head for a warehouse in Sweet Home, a small logging town. Panels, including some see-through, will be added to the flatbed and the tree's branches gently tucked inside for the 3,000-mile journey to Washington, D.C.

    A celebration will be held Friday, Nov. 9 in Sweet Home before the tree begins following a reverse path of the Oregon Trail.

    A series of events will be hosted in communities along the way. Eleven of the 24 stops are in Oregon, including 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday, Nov. 13, at the State Capitol in Salem.

    Oregon also is providing 70 smaller companion trees to decorate government buildings and other public spaces, plus decorations for all. Oregonians have made 10,000 homemade ornaments, 3,500 for the big tree and 6,500 for the smaller trees., 503-399-6710, or follow on Twitter @CapiLynn and Facebook @CapiLynnSJ.