IN HISTORY: Black Hills Spruce Serves As White House Christmas Tree
Against all odds, a 78-foot-high Black Hills spruce tree arrived in Washington D.C. on November 28, 1970, to serve as the White House Christmas tree during the Richard Nixon administration. The tree was decorated with blue, yellow and green bulbs and featured a wire, tear-drop-shaped top ornament.
This particular tree was cut near Nemo, SD. Nemo Road is a popular cruising area for visitors and directly connects West Rapid City to the Black Hills. The Ponderosa Pine and Spruce trees along the road create a scenic drive for all who visit.
On its way to Washington, the tree had more than its fair share of difficulties. Not only did the train transporting the tree derail twice, but the tree had also been toppled over by gusting winds just days before the tree lighting ceremony. Several new branches were attached to the tree in order to fill out the gaps left by the damaged branches.
The tree’s troubles did not end once it reached the White House, however. Electrical sockets connected to the lights on the tree had been coated with liquid fireproofing spray, which caused the lower bulbs on the tree to explode.
The White House has put up a Christmas Tree since 1889. The First Christmas tree was placed in the Yellow Oval Room by the Benjamin Harrison administration. During Herbert Hoover’s presidency, First Lady Lou Henry Hoover started the custom of placing the “official” Christmas Tree in the Blue Room. Spruce trees have been the most popular White House Christmas trees, with a total of 48 used in Blue Room since 1961.