The 53rd U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree officially began its nearly 3,000-mile journey from the Kootenai National Forest in Montana to Washington, D.C.
The 79-foot Englemann Spruce, which is 76 years old and weighs about 15,000 pounds, was harvested on Tuesday, Nov. 8.
After the harvest, longtime truck driver Larry Spiekermeier, hauled the tree to a U.S. Forest Service warehouse. There, the tree will be fitted with a special 80-gallon water bladder to keep it hydrated and carefully wrapped and boxed, before traveling on a tour of 15 community events across Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Missouri, and Kentucky.
A driver for Whitewood Transport, based out of Billings, Mont., Spiekermeier was selected to drive a specially designed Kenworth T680 Advantage with a flatbed trailer to haul the 79-foot tall tree for a special lighting ceremony in December. Spiekermeier has been a truck driver for nearly 50 years.
“I would say it’s a once-in-a-lifetime honor,” Spiekermeier said. “It’s nice when people appreciate what you can do and your skills. I think that if you do your job well, you will be rewarded with things. I’ve done my job as well as I can, and I end up with a reward like this.”
The tree’s first tour stop will be Monday, Nov. 13 at the Eureka Town Hall in Montana. On Nov. 27, the tree will be delivered to the U.S. Capitol.
For more information about the tour, check out the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree website.
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