U.S. Capitol’s Christmas Tree Harvested From North Carolina National Forest

by Taylor Cunningham
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Halloween has only just ended but the U.S. capitol has already picked out its Christmas Tree, and it’s currently on its way to D.C.

Each year, the U.S. Capitol architect heads out to one of the nation’s National Parks to select a Christmas tree to display on the West Front Lawn. This year, they selected one from North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest.

What he chose was a gorgeous 78-foot red spruce, and it took a whole team of experts to bring it down.

“He made his pick,” Matt Eldridge, timber sale administrator with the U.S. Forest Service, told ABC13. “Ruby, the red spruce and the scientific name is Picea rubens.”

Harvesting the Capitol Christmas Tree was a collaborative effort that took two cranes and a chainsaw.

“That crane is going to lift it,” Eldridge noted. “The other crane is going to hook to it till we get it horizontal, gently lowering it onto that truck.”

Getting to handle the chainsaw is an honor that is bestowed upon someone special each year. For this cutting, that went to U.S. Forest Service timber sale administrator Rodney Smith.

Here’s How the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Was Harvested

However, chopping down the Capitol Christmas Tree wasn’t as easy as two crane lifts and a buzz. First, a crew had to hook one of the crane’s rigging to the top of the spruce. Then, Smith had to cut halfway into one side of the trunk.

Then, Smith went to the other side to “pop another wedge in for support.” The plan would allow the crane to lift the tree before it crashed to the ground.

During the entire process, the crew communicated through Bluetooth devices.

“I’ll let them know when I’m making the final cut and basically say, ‘crane operator, she’s all yours,’” Smith added.

Once the Capitol Chrismas Tree was free from its roots, it embarked on a long trip to Washington D.C.

“There’s a companion truck that’s going to follow the tree up on its route and deliver some Christmas trees to some of our military families at Joint Base Andrews,” Ryan Adair with 84 Lumber in Asheville said.

It will take two weeks for the spruce to make its cross country. And when it arrives, it will be trimmed with the finest ornaments and lights. And, as long as all goes as planned, the country will see its debut lighting on Nov. 18.

“She’ll be decorated with thousands of ornaments, hand-made by North Carolinians all across the state,” says the U.S. Forest Service’s Lorie Stroup.