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Capitol Christmas Tree leaves Troy, Montana headed for D.C.

Tree cut from Kootenai National...

TROY, Mont. - Each year for the past 53 years a Christmas tree that will be featured on the Capitol Lawn is picked from Forest Service Land. This year, the 53rd annual "People's Tree" was picked from the Kootenai National Forest, the second time a "People's Tree" has come from that forest. 

The sawyer picked to do the honor of felling the tree, Pete Tallmadge, is a 4th generation logger and a 5th generation resident of the Troy, Montana.

"When they first asked me, my first response was I wanted to say no, because I didn't want the attention, but my family said you gotta do it, you can't pass up an opportunity like this, " said Tallmadge. 

As a sawyer, he's used to the silence and solitude of the forest, but has enjoyed his role in the tradition. 

"When I see the tree in D.C. I'm going to be thinking I knew that tree before it was cut," he said. "I can picture where it was standing."

He felled the tree on Nov. 7th and it rolled into his town on Tuesday the 14th. When it did Tallmadge said his apprehension was replaced with pride and honor.

The tree selected for the capitol lawn is an 81-foot tall, 76-year old Englemann Spruce. 

The trucker selected for the task of ferrying the tree from Troy Montana to D.C. is Larry Spiekermeier, who is from Plains, Montana. He's a truck driver with over 49 years of experience, and is proud to announce he's driven over 3.5 million accident free miles over the course of his career. 

"We are going to put, Libby, Troy and this part of the country on the map," said Spiekermeier. "This is crown jewel of my career."

Hundreds of Troy residents came out to see the tree off by signing the trailer in which its is being transported in, so that their names can accompany it on the 3,500 mile trip. 

The tree will stop in more than 20 different cities in six different states along the way.   

"We are just filled with pride," said resident Tracy Rebo. "We are just so proud of what this little town has done and what America is going to get to see when it gets to D.C."

The tree is expected to make it to the capitol on Nov. 27 and will be decorated with a star and ornaments that were made in Montana. 

The tree was selected for its height, its green color and its accessibility. 
 


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