US Capitol Christmas Tree

All is bright: Capitol Christmas Tree will be topped with Montana-made star

Monday, November 13, 2017

The 5-foot tall copper star is the first to come from the state supplying the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, and features a representation of Montana’s state flower, the bitterroot. The star is made from copper as a nod to the rich copper mining tradition of Butte, Mont. It was designed, planned, and funded by the Washington Companies, fabricated by Split Mountain Metals, and lighted by Western Montana Lighting.

    

 

Kenworth T680 Advantage Begins Transport of U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree to Washington, D.C., Following Harvest

Thursday, November 09, 2017

 

LIBBY, Mont., Nov. 9, 2017 – The 53rd U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree – a 79-foot Englemann Spruce from northwestern Montana – began its nearly 3,000-mile journey from the Kootenai National Forest to Washington, D.C., following its harvesting 45 miles north of Libby Tuesday.

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, Montana-based Whitewood Transport, hauled the tree in a Kenworth T680 Advantage to a U.S. Forest Service warehouse. There, the special tree will be fitted with a special 80-gallon water bladder to keep it hydrated, 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.“It’s an absolutely beautiful tree,” Mason said. “Despite all of the wildfires that burned in Montana this year, we feel fortunate that the Englemann Spruce chosen in July by the Architect of the U.S. Capitol was untouched by fires.”

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 also sports thelogo of Whitewood Transport, a recent multiple-year recipient (including 2016) of the Motor Carrier of the Year from the Motor Carriers of Montana.

The T680 features the PACCAR Powertrain equipped with the PACCAR MX-13 engine, PACCAR 12-speed automated transmission with column-mounted shifter, and PACCAR 40,000-pound tandem rear axle. The T680’s specifications 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 stops begin Monday, 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. The U.S. Speaker of the House – Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, and a Montanan, chosen by U.S. Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, will light the tree at a special ceremony in early December.

Kenworth Truck Company is the manufacturer of The World’s Best® heavy and medium duty trucks. Kenworth’s Internet home page is at www.kenworth.com. Kenworth is a PACCAR company.

 

 

SkyBitz Celebrates 10 Years of Tracking the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree’s Journey to the Nation’s Capitol

Thursday, November 09, 2017

SkyBitz® will once again provide real-time tracking of the United States Capitol Christmas Tree from Montana to the Nation’s Capitol. Through its tracking solution, SkyBitz will provide a detailed map of the tree’s location, bringing visibility of its entire journey via the newly redesigned website, TracktheTree.com.

“We are excited to support the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree’s journey to Washington, D.C. for the tenth year,” said Henry Popplewell, President, SkyBitz. “Throughout the 10 years, we’ve not only formed great partnerships with our peers in the transportation industry, but also with the national forest community and the Northern-Virginia area where the tree brightens the Capitol for the holidays. We look forward to continuing this wonderful tradition for years to come.”

“We are grateful for SkyBitz’ decade-long support of the Capitol Christmas Tree and continued participation by using its innovative technology so everyone can ‘track the tree,” said Bruce Ward, founder and president of Choose Outdoors.

In addition to providing the latest location information, TracktheTree.com will provide photos from each community celebration and facts about each location. The public can also keep up with the SkyBitz Track the Tree via social media.

Over the past decade SkyBitz has made it possible to track the Capitol Christmas Tree using its global asset management solution. For more information about the SkyBitz solutions used to track the tree, visit: www.skybitz.com/products-services.

 

Excerpts from SkyBiz press release, November 9, 2017

Capitol Christmas Tree begins journey from Yaak, Montana to Washington, DC

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

 

From ABC FOX MONTANA

The journey begins for this year's Capitol Christmas Tree.

Hand-picked this spring from the Kootenai National Forest, it will now travel over 3,000 miles to Washington, DC.

Tuesday marked the "felling" or cutting down of the 81-foot tall Engelmann spruce.

Out of a forest of trees, the U.S. Forest Service narrowed down its selection to six needle-branched contestants.

This final tree was chose because of its luscious green color and full tree limbs.

After it was pruned, a fifth generation sawyer sawed it at the base, which measures 26-inches in diameter.

Using a two-crane pulley system, it was hoisted on top of a semi-truck and laid to rest in a wooden cradle.

For the next week, the limbs on the tree will be slowly tucked into its truck, eight inches at a time, so not to break tree branch and to allow it to fit inside an eight-by-eight foot plexiglass box.

Be sure to join ABC FOX Montana along this journey of hauling one of America's most special Christmas trees.

It will depart from Libby for Whitefish on Monday, and then make several stops in Montana along the way before it reaches its final destination of Washington, D.C.

 

Sawyer Selected to Cut 2017 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

 

A local sawyer has been selected to cut the 2017 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. Kootenai Forest Supervisor recently selected Pete Tallmadge of Troy, Montana with the honor of cutting the Capitol Christmas Tree.

Pete Tallmadge is a life-long resident of northwest Montana. He is a 4th generation Montanan and a 3rd generation logger who works with Tallmadge Logging, which started operation in the 1960’s by his father, Stan Tallmadge. Pete and his wife Pam are the parents of five children and one grandchild.

His company has done a lot of roadbuilding for timber access and 99 percent of all the logging work has been in Lincoln County. Pete and his family have a life-long history in northwest Montana and both his grandfather and uncle were sawyers and now his son, Adam is in the business. “What loggers look like will keep changing, but we would like to be part of the logging industry for future generations in northwest Montana,” said Tallmadge.

When asked about cutting the 2107 Capitol Christmas tree Tallmadge responded, “I’m honored, privileged and a little anxious about the event, but mostly happy that my kids and grandkids will be able to remember that I was a sawyer and that they have a strong family history of working in the timber industry in northwest Montana.”

The tree, which Pete will cut, is a 79 ft. tall Engelmann Spruce that is located on the Three Rivers Ranger District in Troy, Montana. It will be cut on Wednesday, November 8 and drone footage of the tree cutting will be on Facebook and also provided to media outlets.

The tree will then be prepped for the almost 3,000-mile trip, which includes a series of community celebrations and culminates with the official tree lighting in early December. After arriving in Washington, D.C. the tree lighting will occur in early December as determined by the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“We are pleased that a local sawyer agreed to cut the 2017 Capitol Christmas tree,” said Kootenai Forest Supervisor Christopher Savage. “Mr. Tallmadge comes well recommended and has decades of wood-working experience.”

 

Companion Trees Help tell the Story of the Kootenai

Thursday, November 02, 2017

 

In addition to the 79 foot Englemann Spruce, nearly 70 companion trees will make their way to Washington D.C., where they will grace legislative offices and federal buildings, and be decorated with some of the 12,000+ ornaments and nearly 80 tree skirts collected throughout the state of Montana.

Trees came from Libby, Stillwater, Swan, and Kalispell in Northwest Montana. Most range from 6 to 8 feet tall and represent a variety of species.

On October 31, Montana Department of Natural Resources Forester, Mike Justus, collected trees from each area and delivered to Libby, where Steve Gauger, retired Forest Service and Christmas tree farmer from Eureka, bundled and wrapped the trees for transport to D.C.

    

 

Thank you to the Montana Department of Natural Resources for the support!


 

Montana Boy to Light Capitol Christmas Tree From Kootenai

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

From Bozeman Daily Chronicle, November 1, 2017

Mr. Ridley is going to Washington.

Ridley Brandmayr, the 11-year-old Bozeman boy who lost the fingers of his right hand in an accident this summer, has been chosen by Montana Sen. Jon Tester to light the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree at an outdoor ceremony on Dec. 6.

Tester’s office announced the honor Tuesday, saying that because the Christmas tree will come from Montana and he is the state’s senior senator, Tester gets to choose the person who will light the tree.

“Ridley has shown incredible strength, determination, perseverance and passion,” Tester said in a statement. “Ridley will represent Montana well and I look forward to celebrating this Christmas season with the Brandmayr family and every Montanan.”

Ridley, now a sixth-grader at Sacajawea Middle School, took time out Tuesday from a Halloween party at home with several buddies to talk about the chance to light the national tree. He said he felt “excited and grateful for the opportunity.”

The Brandmayr family made a long-planned trip to Washington last month. They met Sens. Tester and Steve Daines at the Wednesday morning Montana Coffee, open to any visiting constituents. That’s when Tester first suggested the tree-lighting honor.

“I was just amazed,” Ridley said. “I couldn’t believe it. It was one of those moments that are like a dream.”

Tester, who lost three fingers on his left hand when he was a boy, had phoned Ridley after the boy’s June 30 kitchen accident, while he was still being treated at Children’s Primary Hospital in Salt Lake City.

Mom Emily Brandmayr said Tester urged her son not to use the injury as an excuse, or to see it as a disability, but to feel that “’you will prevail.’” It was a lovely thing to do, she said.

Ridley said that Tester’s call gave him a feeling like confidence.

“I just thought it was cool that he was in a similar accident and years later he became a senator,” Ridley said. “He didn’t let that slow him down.”

After staying with family in Iowa this summer, the Brandmayrs returned to Bozeman just before school started.

“He’s doing really well,” dad Brent Brandmayr said. “By and large he’s thriving at Sacajawea. The teachers have been super supportive. It helps Emily and I to see how well he’s doing.”

Ridley is back on the Barracuda swim team. At an informal swim-a-thon, Ridley swam more than two miles without a prosthetic, his dad said. The first meet is coming up this weekend in Butte, and his son seems a little nervous but excited.

“It’s pretty inspirational,” Brent said. Ridley is a neat and amazing kid, he said, who has impressed the surgeons and other adults he’s met.

Ridley said he’s playing cello again. His teacher fixed up a weight lifting glove, putting two holes in it to help him hold the bow with his injured hand. His dad said Ridley has also been fishing, and hopes to get back to soccer.

“No,” Ridley said. There’s nothing he can’t do.

This summer friends from Ridley’s fifth-grade class at Longfellow School, their parents and his former teacher, Patti Ritter, decided to raise money to help defray hospital bills and show their support.

Kids sold lemonade downtown and at Bogert Park, knit hats and stuffed animals to sell, got donations from businesses, and sent Ridley cards, candy drawings and get-well wishes. The classmates raised thousands of dollars to contribute through a GoFundMe page, which posted that more than $42,000 was raised.

Despite the accidents, surgeries and all he has been through, Ridley is still himself.

“He’s still got his great sense of humor,” his dad said.

Before school started, Brent said, the family held a party, inviting all the Longfellow fifth-graders who were about to start sixth grade, as a thanks to the community.

“It was really cool and neat,” Brent said. “The kids got to see him before school started and reestablish that bond. The kids were super respectful. They were playing football and wrestling.

“We’re definitely feeling really grateful for all the support.”

For the Halloween party, Ridley dressed up as the lead rock guitarist Slash from Guns N’Roses, while his younger brother Ross, 8, was a devil. Friends came as the Energizer bunny, Mr. Monopoly, a lumberjack and characters from the “Hunger Games” and “Star Wars.”

“It’s been wonderful being back,” Emily said.

The Capitol Christmas tree will be cut Nov. 8 in the Kootenai National Forest. From northwest Montana it will travel thousands of miles to Washington.

It will make several stops in Montana, starting Nov. 13 in Eureka and Whitefish; Nov. 14 in Libby, Troy and Trout Creek; Nov. 15 in Thompson Falls and Missoula; Nov. 16 in Helena and Great Falls; Nov. 17 in Fort Belknap and Glasgow; Nov. 18 in Glendive; and then on to North Dakota, Minnesota, Missouri, Kentucky and Maryland.

U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Viewing Event Nov. 7

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The public is invited to join us in celebrating the beginning of the journey for the Capitol Christmas Tree- the “People’s Tree.” The celebration will begin at 2:00 PM on November 7, 2017 at the Upper Ford Historic Ranger Station near Yaak, MT.

Festivities beginning at 2:30 PM: 

Yaak School Singers

Speakers, including Kootenai Forest Supervisor, Chris Savage; Senator Jon Tester Representative, Chad Campbell; Lincoln County Commissioner, Jerry Bennett
Tree “cutting” & limbing (Note that the tree will not be felled during this public event due to equipment location and safety requirements.)
Photo opportunities with tree and sawyer
Display viewing, cookies, hot cocoa, ornaments for sale


PARKING IS VERY LIMITED, PLEASE COORDINATE WITH YOUR NEIGHBOR AND EXPECT TO WALK

 

Location Announced for 2017 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

Monday, October 30, 2017

Every year since 1970, a different National Forest has been selected to provide a tree to appear on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol for the Christmas season. The Kootenai National Forest was selected to provide this special gift from Montana to Washington, D.C. for the 2017 season. This is the second U.S. Capitol Christmas tree to come from the Kootenai National Forest. The Kootenai provided the Capitol Christmas tree in 1989.

In July, Superintendent of the Capitol Grounds Ted Bechtol and his staff visited the forest and inspected a half a dozen or so candidate trees. After careful consideration, he made his selection. It is a 79 ft. tall Engelmann Spruce that is located at the Upper Ford administrative site on the Three Rivers Ranger District in Troy, Montana.

With the selection and location of the tree known, Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer’s will provide 24-hour security of the tree until it is harvested.

There are a few activities and events being planned for the 2017 Capitol Christmas tree celebration. Tuesday, November 7 will be open for the public to come view the tree and take pictures. Refreshments will be provided. Wednesday, November 8 will be a closed event where the tree will be cut, as space and safety concerns are paramount. Drone footage of the tree cutting will be uploaded to Facebook and provided to the media.

The tree will be escorted from the Yaak through the cities of Troy and Libby so the people can see the tree which will adorn the U.S. Capitol grounds this holiday season. The tree will then be stored in Libby and prepped for the almost 3,000-mile trip, which includes a series of community celebrations and culminates with the official tree lighting in early December.

“This is an honor for the Kootenai Forest to provide the Christmas tree for the Nation,” said Kootenai National Forest Supervisor Christopher Savage. “We’ll look to provide employees and partners to engage in activities and events for the Capitol Christmas tree preparation.”

The Forest Service has partnered with nonprofit Choose Outdoors on the Capitol Christmas tree project.

For tour information, event details, news and updates, and to track the tree cross-country, visit facbook.com/kootenainf or www.capitolchristmastree.com.

 

Longtime Montana Trucker to Deliver Capitol Christmas Tree

Monday, October 30, 2017

 

From Daily Inter Lake, Oct. 30, 2017.

In nearly five decades of driving trucks, Larry Spiekermeier has placed sixth in the National Truck Driving Championships, twice been named Motor Carriers of Montana’s “Driver of the Year,” and logged 1.6 million accident-free miles with his current employer, Whitewood Transport.

But with all that experience, Spiekermeier said he’s never had a job quite like the one he’ll take next month.

The 70-year-old Plains resident has been tasked with driving this year’s Capitol Christmas Tree from the Kootenai National Forest to the U.S. Capitol’s West Front Lawn.

“I’ve moved some really big loads,” he told the Daily Inter Lake, but never one so prominent.

Public lands around the country have sent a Christmas tree to the Capitol every year since 1970. This fall, a Kootenai tree was chosen for the first time since 1989. Choose Outdoors, the nonprofit assisting the U.S. Forest Service with the effort, entrusted Spiekermeier’s employer, Whitewood Transport, with the 3,460-mile journey.

In a press release, Whitewood said that “his knowledge of equipment, loading and transport, and his experience with specialty oversize and overweight commodities set Spiekermeier apart in the trucking industry.”

That experience likely will prove useful in driving a 79-foot-tall Engelmann spruce — and the water tank keeping it fresh — to the nation’s capital.

Spiekermeier said he ordinarily drives a 75-foot rig, but “because of the length of the trailer that’s hauling the tree ... I’ll be somewhere between 90 and 100 feet long.”

In place of his usual Western Star, he’ll be driving a Kenworth T680 Advantage, which the truck manufacturer has provided and decorated for the occasion. Spiekermeier’s wife, Mary Ann, will join him for the first 900 miles, A second Whitewood truck carrying 70 smaller trees for the Capitol’s interior and nine pallets of “Made in Montana” ornaments will follow, driven by Grant Coleman.

After the Nov. 8 tree-cutting ceremony, the convoy will make celebratory stops at Eureka and Whitefish on Nov. 13, Libby, Troy, and Trout Creek on Nov. 14, and Thompson Falls and Missoula on Nov. 15.

The Don K Whitefish car dealership, 6219 U.S. 93 S., will host the Whitefish stop, with the tree arriving at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 13.

The tree will continue to Central and Eastern Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Missouri, Kentucky and Maryland before arriving at the Capitol on Nov. 27.

For a complete event list, visit www.capitolchristmastree.com

Even as he eyes retirement, Spiekermeier said he’s looking forward to “just seeing the kids’ eyes” when he rolls up with the tree, and “giving them exposure to something that’s going to end up on the front lawn of the Capitol.”

Reporter Patrick Reilly can be reached at preilly@dailyinterlake.com, or at 758-4407.