#Lookback: The Wyoming Christmas Tree Tradition

A County 10 series in partnership with the Fremont County Museum System
where we take a #Lookback at the stories and history of our community and
presented by Mick Pryor, Financial Advisor with Edward Jones.

While the tradition of going out into the forest and trudging through the snow to find and cut down the perfect Christmas tree is alive and well in Wyoming, most states are more accustomed to store-bought trees or tree farms. Since 1850, Christmas trees have been sold commercially throughout the United States. Since Christmas trees can be grown in all fifty states, including Hawaii, ninety-eight percent of all Christmas trees are grown on farms.

When you cut down a tree yourself, there is a story that goes behind it. The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) each have their own set of rules governing how a Christmas tree can be harvested; meaning that not just any tree can be cut down. Choosing the perfect tree and deciding whether it will be a full and beautiful tree or a Charlie Brown tree is all part of the adventure. Taking a tree out of a crowded group of trees helps forest health by providing more resources for the remaining trees. All five National Forests along with BLM land in Wyoming sell Christmas tree permits.

Before the Christmas tree, greenery was used to celebrate the holiday season as the plants and trees that remained green during the winter had a special meaning. Boughs were often hung over doors and windows as some believed it would keep away spirits and illness. In ancient Rome, Egypt, and China, evergreen wreaths, garlands, and trees symbolized eternal life.

The origins of the modern Christmas tree started appearing in what is now Germany during the middle ages. Some of these early Christmas trees were built into pyramids out of wood and then decorated with evergreens, while regular trees were decorated with lighted candles. The tradition of the Christmas tree came to America in the 17th century but was not widespread until the 1800s. Decorated Christmas trees in America were first documented in Pennsylvania in the 1830s. The 1890s saw a rise in Christmas tree popularity with the arrival of Christmas ornaments from Germany.

The famous Christmas tree on the lawn of the US Capitol in Washington, DC is provided by the National Forest Service, with a different forest having the honor each year. In 2010, Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest provided a 67 foot Engelmann Spruce and is so far the only year the tree has come from Wyoming.

Pictured above, Karl Welty Sr. and Steve Welty accompanied by Gus the dog in the 40s, pose for a photo with a hatchet in hand with their newly harvested Christmas tree on Horse Creek.

Merry Christmas from everyone at Fremont County Museums!!

Next up for the Fremont County Museum

Thru December 30, 9-5 pm at the Pioneer Museum,“The Arapaho Way” By Sara Wiles

Photography on exhibit in the Western Gallery through December

Thru October 2022, 9-5 pm Monday-Saturday, at the Pioneer Museum,“Hurrah for The Cowboy: Men of the Open Range” Art Exhibition

The Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander and the Riverton Museum need your financial support.In the current economic environment, the museums are more reliant than ever on donations from the private sector to continue to provide the quality programs, collections management, exhibits and services that have become their hallmark over the last four years.Please make your tax-deductible contribution to be used specifically for the benefit of the museum of your choosing by sending a check to Fremont County Museums 450 N 2ndRm 320 or taking it directly to the museum you choose to support.

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