Capitol Holiday Tree
10 November 2004
Virginia Cooperative Extension, Charlottesville/Albemarle County Office
460 Stagecoach Road, Charlottesville, Virginia 22902
phone: 434.872.4580 fax: 434.872.4578
The Commonwealth of Virginia has been given the honor to provide the 2004 National Holiday Tree with participation from the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. The 2004 tree will be the first National Holiday Tree from Virginia.
This gift to the nation is from our entire State. In July the U.S. Capitol Landscape Architect selected a beautiful 70-foot red spruce located in Highland County on the Warm Springs Ranger District of the George Washington National Forest. The tree was cut on November 2nd. Highland County hosted a Send-Off Ceremony on November 13 at the Highland County Fairground in Monterey.
In December, as America watches, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives will throw the switch, lighting the magnificent holiday tree on the front lawn of our nations capitol.
In addition to the Big Tree placed on the west lawn of the Capitol, approximately 70 Companion Trees are also provided as part of the Capitol Holiday Tree effort. Two of these trees are quite large, about 25 feet in height, and are placed in prominent positions at the Supreme Court and the US Department of Agriculture Patio. The remaining Companion Trees range from the 8 to 15 feet and will be delivered to the offices of the Senators and Representatives of the Commonwealth, Congressional Dining Rooms, the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior, and Agency and Bureau Chiefs throughout Agriculture and Interior. These trees have been donated by Christmas tree growers across Virginia providing an excellent opportunity to promote Virginias Christmas tree growers and their industry.
The regular practice of displaying a holiday tree on the Capitol grounds is relatively recent. Correspondence of 1919 in the records of the Architect of the Capitol indicates that a holiday tree was purchased that year. However, it was not until 1964 that a definite procedure was initiated and a tree-lighting ceremony established.
In 1963, House Speaker John W. McCormack suggested to J. George Stewart, Architect of the Capitol, that a holiday tree be placed on the Capitol grounds. A live 24-foot Douglas fir was purchased for $700 from Buddies Nurseries of Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, and was planted on the West Front lawn. Each year through 1967 this tree was decorated and a tree-lighting ceremony was held. Unfortunately, a combination of factors, including a severe wind storm in the spring of 1967 and root damage, caused the tree to die in 1968; it was removed in the same year. The 1968 Christmas tree was made from two white pines from Finxburg, Maryland, and was 30 feet tall; the 1969 tree was a 40-foot white pine from Westminster, Maryland.
The United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service has provided the trees since 1970. Information about individual trees is listed below.
|1970||Norway Spruce||40 feet||Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia|
|1971||Black Spruce||45 feet||White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire|
|1972||Balsam Fir||50 feet||Tennessee National Forest, Pennsylvania|
|1973||White Spruce||51 feet||Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania|
|1974||Fraser Fir||41 feet||Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina|
|1975||Balsam Fir||41 feet||Ottawa National Forest, Michigan|
|1976||Red Spruce||41 feet||Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia|
|1977||White Spruce||52 feet||Nemadji State Forest, Minnesota|
|1978||Norway Spruce||60 feet||Savage River State Forest, Maryland|
|1979||White Spruce||52 feet||Nicolet National Forest, Wisconsin|
|1980||White Spruce||48 feet||Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont|
|1981||White Spruce||50 feet||Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan|
|1982||Balsam Fir||50 feet||Riley Bostwich Wildlife Management Area, Vermont|
|1983||White Spruce||52 feet||Chequamegon National Forest, Wisconsin|
|1984||White Spruce||58 feet||Superior National Forest, Minnesota|
|1985||White Spruce||56 feet||Ottawa National Forest, Michigan|
|1986||Shasta Red Fir||54 feet||Klamath National Forest, California|
|1987||Norway Spruce||60 feet||Wayne-Hoosier National Forest, Ohio|
|1988||Balsam Fir||50 feet||Manistee National Forest, Michigan|
|1989||Engelmann Spruce||60 feet||Kootenai National Forest, Montana|
|1990||Engelmann Spruce||65 feet||Routt National Forest, Colorado|
|1991||Blue Spruce (live)||60 feet||Carson National Forest, New Mexico|
|1992||White Spruce||62 feet||Chippewa National Forest, Minnesota|
|1993||White Fir||65 feet||San Bernardino National Forest, California|
|1994||Balsam Fir||58 feet||Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont|
|1995||Douglas Fir||60 feet||Plumas National Forest, California|
|1996||Engelmann Spruce||75 feet||Manti-LaSal National Forest, Utah|
|1997||Black Hills Spruce||63 feet||Black Hills National Forest, South Dakota|
|1998||Fraser Fir||50 feet||Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina|
|1999||White Spruce||60 feet||Nicolet National Forest, Wisconsin|
|2000||Colorado Blue Spruce||65 feet||Pike National Forest, Colorado|
|2001||White Spruce||72 feet||Ottawa National Forest, Michigan|
|2002||Douglas Fir||70 feet||Umpqua National Forest, Oregon|
|2003||Engelmann Spruce||70 feet||Boise National Forest, Idaho|
Source - http://www.aoc.gov/cc/grounds/hol_trees/holiday_trees.htm
Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources is hosting the Capitol Holiday Tree website this year, http://capitolholidaytree2004.org/. Les Fuller, senior research associate, designed and maintains the site in collaboration with Donna Wilson and Jobeth Brown from the U.S. Forest Service in Roanoke, Va.
Pictured here is the 70-foot red spruce that was cut last week in Highland County for the nation's Capitol as it is being airlifted out of the forest. The tree will tour Virginia before going to the Capitol. The local tree tour schedule and contact people are as follows:
- Culpeper 5:30pm, Sunday, Nov. 14, Paula Stafford - 540-727-0611
- Orange 2pm Friday, Nov. 26, Carolyn Wray - 540-972-7761
- Amherst 11am Saturday, Nov. 27, Jack Hobbs - 434-946-7885
The Lighting Ceremony will start at 5:00 PM on December 9, 2004 on the front lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C
For more information about landscape topics contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office. The local Virginia Cooperative Extension office numbers are Albemarle 872-4580, Fluvanna 591-1950, Greene 985-5236, Louisa 540-967-3422, and Nelson 263-4035.