US Capitol Christmas Tree Cut; En Route to Washington

This year's U.S. Capitol Christmas tree, a 73-foot Engelmann Spruce, comes from Colorado's White River National Forest, and is already headed to Washington, D.C.

Crews were wrapping the tree up and preparing it for a national tour on the weekend, NBC Washington reports. The tree, which was cut down on Friday, will travel through ten states before arriving in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 26.

A crane lifted it through the air before settling it on a huge flatbed truck. Private donors and sponsors are paying most of the transportation costs.

Forest supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams was asked to pick the tree that met a few guidelines. "It has to be the right size; it can't be too tall, too big," NPR quoted him as saying. "And what they look for is the fullness. So it looks like a giant version of the Christmas tree you have in your house."

According to the official website of the Capitol Christmas Tree 2012, the tree got a community sendoff in Meeker, Colo.

The state Forest Service also harvested 75 subalpine fir trees from the Colorado State Forest near Gould for U.S. government offices, according to the Herald Times of Rio Blanco County.

The tree will be lit in the first week of December. This will be the third time that Colorado has provided the Capitol Christmas Tree. In 1990, it was provided by the Routt National Forest and in 2000 by the Pike National Forest.

For more than four decades, the federal government has selected the Capitol Christmas Tree from a national forest.

The tradition of the Capitol Christmas Tree, or "The People's Tree," started in 1964 when House Speaker John W. McCormack placed a live Christmas tree on the Capitol lawn. This tree lived three years before succumbing to wind and root damage.

In 1970, the Capitol Architect asked the U.S. Forest Service to provide this Christmas tree. Since then, a different National Forest is chosen each year.