People’s Christmas Tree moves through Nebraska and Kansas in route to the White House | TheFencePost.com

People’s Christmas Tree moves through Nebraska and Kansas in route to the White House

Photographer Sharon Henderson, Gering, Neb., was on hand when the tree made a stop near the state’s famous landmark, Chimney Rock.

The National Christmas Tree made its way through Nebraska and Kansas on its way to the White House last week. As part of celebrating the 175th anniversary of the Oregon Trail, the tree is being transported along the route from its origin in the Willamette National Forest in Oregon.

The theme for the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree is "Find Your Trail!" in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act and the 175th commemoration of the Oregon Trail.

Photographer Sharon Henderson, Gering, Neb., was on hand when the tree made a stop near the state's famous landmark, Chimney Rock. In 2015, Henderson took a photo of Chimney Rock daily and posted it to her Facebook page CR365.

"Since they were following the Oregon Trail backwards, they were really willing to stop along hot spots along the way," she said. "Chimney Rock was a pretty big deal along the Westward Migration and we thought it would be really cool if we could get some photos."

The entire entourage stopped with law enforcement guiding traffic while the photos were taken before the truck continued on to Perry, Kan., and then Kansas City.

"In addition to bringing awareness to agriculture and Christmas trees, we really want to highlight outdoor recreation," said Joanie Schmigdall, public information officer, Willamette National Forest. "We want people to be excited about recreating outdoors and public lands in general, which we know are important."

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The process of bringing the National Christmas Tree to Washington, D.C., began last January but the tradition dates back nearly 50 years.

"In addition to the large, main Capitol Christmas tree that will sit on the left lawn of the U.S. Capitol, we also have three growers in Oregon who donated additional trees that will decorate various offices in Congress and the halls of other buildings in Washington, D.C.," she said. "We're known for growing Christmas trees in Oregon and we grow some beautiful ones there."

The Kansas Christmas Tree Growers Association met the tree in Perry, Kan., and helped celebrate as well as promoting their Trees for Troops Project where they send trees overseas to troops stationed away from home during Christmas.

The Capitol Christmas Tree will arrive at joint base Andrew on Nov. 25 and the tree will then be struck and decorated prior to the official lighting on Dec. 5. The Speaker of the House will do the honors of lighting the tree.

The 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is a Noble fir, the first in the 47-year history of the program, that was 80 feet tall in the forest, cut to 70 feet on the trailer. It was harvested from the Willamette National Forest, Sweet Home Ranger District, Sweet Home, Ore., at 4,100 feet.

The transportation of the tree is handled by the Central Oregon Truck Company in a specially designed W990 Kenworth truck and custom trailer with a clear rear section to allow the tree to be viewed along the route. ❖

— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at rgabel@thefencepost.com or (970) 392-4410.