November 12th, 2013 by

By Lisa Swann

The 88-foot Engelmann spruce selected as the 2013 Capitol Christmas Tree is
hoisted onto a flatbed truck, where it will be secured for the 5,000-foot journey
across the country. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

More than 300 people gathered recently in 25-degree weather to witness the harvesting of the 88-foot 2013 Capitol Christmas Tree from the Colville National Forest in northeastern Washington State, the first step in its 5,000 mile journey to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

It took more than a dozen equipment operators and spotters to place the tree into position on a Mack Truck. A few extra feet of trunk had to be cut to make it fit.

The Engelmann spruce — also known as white spruce, mountain spruce or silver spruce — is native to western North America and is mostly a high altitude mountain tree, growing at 900-3650 meters above sea level.

The Capitol Christmas tree is lit each year on the U.S. Capitol grounds by the Speaker of the House. It will hold nearly 10,000 lights, but will first make appearances during its trip in Ogden, Spanish Fork and St. George, Utah; Sedona and Flagstaff, Ariz.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Amarillo and Dallas, Texas; Little Rock, Ark,; Nashville, and Knoxville, Tenn.; Roanoke, Va.; Hagerstown, Md.; and Allentown, Penn. If you want to track the tree as it moves across the country, check out capitolchristmastree.com.

The tree — known as the “People’s Tree” because it comes from public land — will arrive at Andrews Air Force base in Maryland on November 24th and will be paraded into Washington, D.C. the next day.