The 52nd U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, an 80-foot Englemann Spruce from Idaho, will begin its 4,000-mile journey from the Payette National Forest to Washington, D.C., following its harvesting Wednesday and a community celebration this weekend in McCall, Idaho.
The tree was cut, hoisted onto a flatbed trailer, and transported to a nearby site by a red, specially decaled Kenworth T680 driven by Gary Amoth, owner of Twin Falls, Idaho-based Gary Amoth Trucking.
Forest Service officials estimate the tree, which is a native species to the Payette National Forest, is about 80 years old.
“It’s this deep rich green color, perfectly cylindrical in shape and has full branches all around it, which will make it a fantastic Christmas tree for the U.S. Capitol,” said Brian Harris, public affairs officer for the Payette National Forest.
The Payette Smokejumpers searched through the 2.3-million acre forest and chose 14 candidate trees of various native species earlier this year. In keeping with tradition, the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree was selected from the finalists by Ted Bechtol, deputy superintendent for the Capitol Grounds Jurisdiction.
The Kenworth T680 tour truck features a comfortable 76-inch sleeper, fuel-efficient 485-hp PACCAR MX-13 engine, Eaton Fuller Advantage(TM) 10-speed automated transmission and new PACCAR Axle, which according to Kenworth is the industry’s most efficient and lightest weight tandem drive axle. The truck, which utilizes Kenworth’s T680 Advantage configuration, also has new aerodynamic fairings now standard on the T680.
Local Kenworth dealer Kenworth Sales Co. nominated Gary Amoth Trucking as this year’s Capitol Christmas Tree hauler. The fleet was chosen based on the owner’s reputation in the trucking industry in Idaho. Gary Amoth will drive the T680 during the tour, which will visit 27 communities across the country. The tree will be lit during a special ceremony in early December to be presided by U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
For more information, including a tour schedule, visit the 2016 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree website (www.capitolchristmastree.com). The website is operated by Choose Outdoors, a non-profit organization that promotes outdoor recreation and access to public lands for outdoor recreational activities, and assists the U.S. Forest Service with coordinating the annual U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Tour. To track the truck’s progress during the tour, visit www.Trackthetree.com.