For the second time in history, the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is coming from an Oregon forest. The 35-year-old, 82-foot noble fir was chosen from the Sweet Home Ranger District on the Willamette National Forest in August and was cut last week.
This year’s theme is “Find Your Trail” in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act and the 175th anniversary of the Oregon Trail. The Willamette National Forest is working in partnership with the nonprofits Choose Outdoors and Travel Oregon to take the tree on tour.
The tree will follow the path of the Oregon Trail in reverse. Joanie Schmidgall is with the Willamette National Forest: “The idea of following the Oregon Trail in reverse is to retrace the path of some of those early Oregonians and to celebrate Oregon’s history along the way.”
Schmidgall adds the theme also celebrates recreation: “We want to encourage people to get out and to find their trail and to explore their national forests and their public lands because there’s so many cool places to see not just in Oregon but along the entire Oregon trail and throughout the country.”
This is the first time a noble fir was selected to grace the lawn of the Capitol building. 70 smaller companion trees are also being sent along to adorn the halls of other government agencies. The tree is contained in a wood paneled box on a semi trailer, though some of the panels allow for viewing through plexiglass.
A series of festive events is planned along the route and the tree will be on display at several places in Oregon before heading east. The first stop is in Sweet Home on Friday evening for a kickoff parade at 6:00. On Saturday the tree will be in Albany and Springfield, and in McKenzie River and Oakridge on Sunday.
If you'd like your own Christmas tree from the Willamette National Forest, permits are available now