For the third time, the Christmas tree on display on the U.S. Capitol building lawn came from the National Forests in North Carolina. And just like most good things, it was hauled in on a truck.
Each year, a carrier is selected to transport a tree from cut-down to installation. This time, the honor goes to Siloam, North Carolina-based carrier Hardy Brothers Inc.
The husband-and-wife driver team of Harold “Ed” Kingdon Jr. and Deborah Kingdon hauled a 78-foot tall Red Spruce harvested from the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina to the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
To get there the Kingdons drove a Kenworth T680 Next Gen equipped with a 76-inch mid-roof sleeper and the Paccar powertrain. The Kingdon’s typically drive a 2022 T680, but this T680 Next Gen was decked out with Kenworth’s latest features and comforts, including a 15-inch digital display and advanced driver assistance systems.
While the tree had to be delivered by Nov. 18 in order to be set in place by Nov. 30 for the official tree lighting ceremony, the driver team had to make daily stops on their way through North Carolina. The tree was on its two-week media tour.
What would typically be a day-long haul for the team, was stretched to 14 days.
“It’s going to be a whole mindset difference,” Ed Kingdon told HDT while the team was prepping for the run. “We're accustomed to team driving: drive, sleep, switch, drive, sleep, switch. This is going to be a lot slower and it's going to be whole different management of our 14-hour clocks because of the stops and overnights. That's going to be a much slower pace.”
En route to Washington D.C., the Kingdons made stops at places like visitor centers, the North Carolina Zoo, a high school, and more. The Kingdons describe themselves as “people persons,” so they met their role of has the official drivers with excitement, and said they were honored to do it.
The team has been in trucking for about four years, but before that Ed was active duty miliary; for seven years he was based in D.C. He had dreamt of driving a truck in his retirement from the military… but it took him about two years to finally convince his wife on get on board. She received her CDL in 2018, and they found a home with Hardy Brothers, which is a carrier made up largely of team drivers.
With Ed’s last active-duty assignment in Washington, D.C., the haul brings him full circle. This time, his wife gets to come along.
“It meant a lot to me to be able to be part of this haul after working up there for so long and enjoying the city and the people,” he says. “That kind of connection was exciting for me. And it's bipartisan. It's a common purpose. What we're hauling is a joy, a coming together… communities are making decorations for the tree itself and for the companion trees. We’re part of bringing that enthusiasm and joy for the season to Washington, D.C. and from North Carolina.”
See more photos of the tour.
This article appears in the November/December 2022 issue of Heavy Duty Trucking.