Skip to main content

From Montana with Light

Posted by Robert Hudson Westover, Office of Communication, U.S. Forest Service in Forestry
May 08, 2019
The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree on the West Lawn of Capitol Hill
The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree on the West Lawn of Capitol Hill. (Photo credit: David Kosling, USDA)


And with this countdown the journey of three thousand miles for the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree from Montana’s Kootenai National Forest comes to end or just begins for those who have yet to see the massive 79-foot Engelmann spruce now on Capitol Hill.

Starting tonight local residents and tourists will be able to view this gleaming tree adorned with thousands of hand-made ornaments crafted by children from all over the state of Montana.

The tree, called Beauty of the Big Sky, began its cross-country sojourn in early November and has made over 30 stops at towns and cities along the way.

Traveling alongside the spruce was one of the largest tree-topping stars ever made for a harvested tree. Despite concerns that the star might be too large and heavy for the tree, the sturdy Engelmann spruce held its own and the star has been successfully installed.

The lighting was hosted by the Architect of the Capitol with members of the Montana Congressional Delegation speaking as well as USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, with the U.S. House of Representatives Speaker, Paul Ryan, presiding over the ceremony held on the West Lawn of Capitol Hill.

Carrying on a decades old tradition, a child from the tree’s home state flipped the switch to illuminate the tree. Ridley Brandmayr, an 11-year-old Bozeman boy who lost the fingers of his right hand in an accident this summer, was chosen by Montana Sen. Jon Tester for the honors.

Since 1970 the U.S. Forest Service has provided the national Capitol Christmas Tree.

US Capitol Christmas Tree star
The very large US Capitol Christmas Tree star was shipped across country in a protective sheathing of Plexiglas. The fabrication of the five-foot, ninety-pound tree topper took over 1,000 hours to create and is one of the biggest stars ever made for a harvested Christmas tree. (Photo credit: Stephanie Zacha)
Category/Topic: Forestry

Write a Response

CAPTCHA This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.


Tara Oatridge
Dec 09, 2017

Sorry, posted earlier too. Was it certain school districts that may have decorated ornaments for this tree? And what grades? I am looking specifically for either Wyoming Valley West School.District, seventh-grade, or Wilkes Barre Area, kindergarten. Thank you for any and all info for the info above. Sorry, to bother you if not. Thank you.

Dec 13, 2017

this is pretty

Ted R. Jones
Dec 15, 2017

Most Excellent....