Historic trip for U.S. Capitol tree, Kenworth W990

Nov. 22, 2018
The Capitol Christmas Tree made its way east from Oregon's Willamette Valley on a historic reverse route marking the Oregon Trail.

Every year it's different, and this year was special. The Capitol Christmas Tree made its way east from Oregon's Willamette Valley to its appearance last week in Independence, MO, on a reverse route marking the Oregon Trail—it's 175 years since 1,000 settlers in wagons headed west in the Great Migration of 1843. 

From Independence, which was a gathering point for those large-wheeled wagon trains, the tree then made a stop in St. Louis before continuing on through Ohio and into Maryland. The tour this year—you might call it the "Reverse O.T."—brought the tree from Oregon to Idaho, Nebraska, Wyoming, Kansas, and now Missouri.

All told, the tree will have traveled nearly 3,000 miles when it reaches the U.S. Capitol in a few days. It's a special trip that's taken a special truck: the brand-new Kenworth W990 pulling it on a flatbed trailer came from The Papé Group, a major sponsor of the tree's tour this year.

Doing the honors hauling the tree was Central Oregon Truck Co. (COTC). Rick Williams, the company's CEO, Phil Taylor, VP of maintenance, and Driver Safety and Services Director Brad Aimone piloted the Kenworth along with other COTC drivers. The flatbed carrier hauls freight across the 48 continental states and Canada.

This is the 54th Capitol Christmas Tree, a.k.a. "The People's Tree." Of the six trees that the Oregon Forest Service nominated this year, a Noble Fir was chosen—the same as the very first of these in 1964. This 80-ft. fella came from Willamette National Forest and was prepped/ protectively packaged in Sweet Home, OR, which included getting a 200-gal. water bladder to keep it hydrated along the way.

The Kenworth W990 that hauled the tree has special graphics with a Christmas tree next to the U.S. Capitol and reading "From the Oregon Trail to the Capitol Steps." The Kenworth has a 76-in. mid-roof sleeper, Paccar MX-13 diesel rated at 455 hp. and 1,650 lbs.-ft. of torque, and 12-speed automated transmission. Inside, it's Limited Edition—this truck got the works.

This is the fifth consecutive year Kenworth has provided one of its new trucks to transport the tree. "We’re not just moving a tree, we're celebrating tradition and kicking off the holiday season by transporting a tree specifically selected to stand tall outside the U.S. Capitol building," said Kurt Swihart, marketing director at Kenworth.

"It's why so many people come out to view the tree along the route," he added. "It's special.”

Go to www.CapitolChristmasTree.com for more info or click here to check out news coverage from the tree's tour stops from Oregon to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland Sun., Nov. 25.

About the Author

Aaron Marsh

Before computerization had fully taken hold and automotive work took someone who speaks engine, Aaron grew up in Upstate New York taking cars apart and fixing and rewiring them, keeping more than a few great jalopies (classics) on the road that probably didn't deserve to be. He spent a decade inside the Beltway covering Congress and the intricacies of the health care system before a stint in local New England news, picking up awards for both pen and camera.

He wrote about you-name-it, from transportation and law and the courts to events of all kinds and telecommunications, and landed in trucking when he joined FleetOwner in July 2015. Long an editorial leader, he was a keeper of knowledge at FleetOwner ready to dive in on the technical and the topical inside and all-around trucking—and still turned a wrench or two. Or three. 

Aaron previously wrote for FleetOwner. 

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