Union Pacific Railroad Employees Carry on Omaha Holiday Tradition

OMAHA, Neb. — Union Pacific Railroad employees cut and transported a 40-foot blue spruce from the property of Sharon Alvarez of the Lakeland Development near Blair, Neb., to The Durham Museum.

“This is our 19th year to harvest the tree locally and Union Pacific employees look forward to helping bring this holiday symbol to the former Union Station each year, just like their fellow employees did so many years ago,” said Tom Adams, electrician on Union Pacific’s Council Bluffs Service Unit and the railroad’s “Christmas Tree Team” coordinator. “The expressions on the faces of young and old alike when they first walk into the museum great hall and see the decorated tree for the first time are priceless.”

Union Pacific began the tradition some 75 years ago by cutting a Christmas tree from along its right of way in the Pacific Northwest and transporting it to Omaha’s Union Station. The tree greeted the thousands of passengers arriving on trains during the holiday season in the heyday of passenger rail service.

After this year’s tree is placed in The Durham’s massive, art-deco-patterned, terrazzo-floored main great hall by Union Pacific employees, it will be sprayed with a chemical fire retardant prior to being decorated by volunteers as well as employees from Mangelsen’s, an Omaha-area craft store.

The fully decorated tree will be ready for the lighting ceremony which begins at 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 26.