ELKINS, W.Va. (WBOY) – Right on cue for the season, it was a winter wonderland for the harvesting of the 2023 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest provided the 63-foot Norway Spruce tree.
After a year of searching for the perfect tree, park officials narrowed it down to eight trees, with this one believed to be less than 40 years old coming out a winner.
Amy Albright, the project manager said, “We had the architect at the Capitol’s staff come out and look at all those candidate trees, and ultimately, they’re the ones that selected the tree that would get harvested.”
The 63-footer was laid down on a 53-foot flat bed truck, small enough to go down the mountain safely. From there it will then be transported onto a bigger flat bed that will be used to parade the tree throughout the state starting with a kickoff in Elkins on Saturday.
It will then travel to 14 other locations before finally making its grand arrival at the Capitol on Nov. 17. The tree will be decorated with more than 10,000 ornaments, many of which were made by students across West Virginia.
One unique thing about the harvest was what happened to it when it was fully cut: There was no boom. The tree was attached to a crane that lifted it off the ground, making sure only the cut part of the tree touched the ground so all the sides were protected. The tree will undergo a two days process of proper wrapping and maintaining to make sure it’ll get to the Capitol as green as it left the forest.
The two sawyers this year were Ron Polgar, a longtime Mon National Forest employee and professional botanist, and world champion lumberjack Arden Cogar Jr. who continued a Cogar family tradition; his father, who died over a year ago, had the very same honor almost 50 years ago in 1976.
“For me to actually do this, was emotionally overwhelming.” Cogar Jr. said. “As I was sawing the tree today, I was thinking ‘Dad’s looking down on me with his thumbs up saying ‘good job son, good job’,” he added.
Cogar Jr.’s journey with the tree will continue with some speeches and he will also do a lumberjack demonstration in Charleston and be in attendance at other tour stops.
The Mon National Forest has provided national trees twice before, for the first time 1970 and then in 1976.
12 News will continue to have coverage of the tree and its sawyers.