The tradition of the Capitol Christmas Tree, lovingly referred to as "The People’s Tree," began in 1964 when Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John W. McCormack (D-MA) placed a live Christmas tree on the Capitol lawn. After three years, the tree was ravaged by winds, so the Capitol Architect asked the U.S. Forest Service to provide a Christmas tree as a replacement, and the tradition continues.
Since then, a different national forest has been chosen each year to provide "The People’s Tree." According to Choose Outdoors, the chosen national forest also works with state forests to provide companion trees that are smaller Christmas trees for offices in Washington, D.C.
The tree chosen as the 2017 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is a 79 ft. tall Engelmann Spruce found in the Three Rivers Ranger District of the Kootenai National Forest. The tree traveled more than 3,600 miles to Washington, where it was lite on December 6th.
The tree weighs 15,000 pounds, has a diameter of 30 inches, it is approximately 76 years old, and it is adorned with 12,853 ornaments that were created locally and across the state of Montana.
To track the route taken by the tree or to learn more about the history of this national tradition, click here.