The 53rd U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree– a 79-foot Englemann Spruce from northwestern Montana– has begun its nearly 3,000-mile journey from the Kootenai National Forest to Washington, D.C.
After the cutting, the “People’s Tree” was hoisted onto a specially designed flatbed trailer. Larry Spiekermeier, a 1.6-million mile, accident-free driver with Billings, Mont.-based Whitewood Transport, hauled the tree with a Kenworth T680 Advantage 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 then carefully wrapped and boxed before traveling on a tour of 15 community events across Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Missouri, and Kentucky.
The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is 76 years old and weighed in at harvest at about 15,000 pounds, according to Sandi Mason, the U.S. Forest Service’s U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree project leader.
The Kenworth T680 Advantage transporting the tree features a distinctive exterior design, with the 2017 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree – Kootenai National Forest seal, brightly lit and colorfully adorned Christmas Tree, and the U.S. Capitol beneath a starry sky with the words “Big Sky. Big Tree. Big Journey.”
The T680 features the Paccar Powertrain equipped with Paccar MX-13 engine, Paccar 12-speed automated transmission with column-mounted shifter, and Pacar 40,000-pound tandem rear axle. The T680’s specifications also include a 76-inch sleeper with Kenworth’s premium Driver’s Studio option, TruckTech+ remote diagnostics system, predictive cruise control, idle management system, driver performance center, and premium GT703 seats.
The tour begins Nov. 13, at the Eureka Town Hall in Eureka, Montana, and ends Nov. 26 at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. The tree will be delivered to the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 27.
Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and a Montanan, chosen by U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), will light the tree at a special ceremony in early December.
For more information and a complete tour schedule, visit the 2017 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree website.