Capitol Holiday Tree Finishes Nationwide Journey in D.C.

Tue December 16, 2003 - Northeast Edition

After a 2,500-mi. trek across the nation, the 2003 Capital Holiday Tree landed safely in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 1.

The Capitol Holiday Tree is a 40-year-old tradition. Each year, a different state is chosen to provide the three that will grace the nation’s capitol throughout the holidays. This year, a 67-ft., 11,000-lb. Engelmann Spruce was cut from the Boise National Forest in Idaho in early November.

Crane West Inc. of Boise, donated the equipment and personnel to lift the cut tree onto the waiting trailer, which was shrink wrapped for the journey to Washington, D.C.

Jack Buell Trucking in St. Maries, ID, donated the truck, trailer and driver Jack Sherwood to haul the tree.

“The Idaho loggers are here!” Sherwood said shortly after he stepped out of the tractor-trailer driver’s seat upon arriving in Washington.

“I just thought I could do this,” Sherwood told reporters of his decision to undertake the 25-day journey.”

Sherwood, who ordinarily drives a lowboy for Jack Buell’s JMF Trucking, reportedly described the 11,000-lb. load of the spruce tree as pretty light by semi-truck standards.

Nonetheless, the length of the load required the trucking company to get extra-length permits from the states requiring them along the way,

Jack Buell Trucking also supplied two additional trucks and drivers to take the tree ornaments and 80 “companion” trees back east.

The companions are smaller trees selected to decorate other D.C. sites, such as the U.S. Supreme Court, the Botanical Garden, Idaho’s Congressional delegation, Senate and House Committee offices, U.S. Department of Agriculture office, and U.S. Department of the Interior offices.

The journey to Washington, D.C. began with a celebration on Saturday, Nov. 8 in Boise where the tree was featured in the annual Veterans’ Day parade.

Before the tree left the Gem State, it traveled to more than 50 Idaho communities to give residents a chance to see it firsthand. The tree also made stops in Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, and West Virginia on the way to Washington, D.C.

The 2003 Capitol Holiday Tree’s entire trip from Idaho to the nation’s capitol has been funded with donations and coordinated by volunteers.

The tree will remain in place through Jan. 1, after which it will be chipped, and used to mulch the Capitol grounds.

Next year’s tree will be provided by the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest in Virginia.