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Union Pacific Railroad Employees Carry on Omaha Holiday Tradition

40-Foot Blue Spruce is Holiday Centerpiece in the Durham Museum’s Susanne and Walter Scott Great Hall

Omaha, Neb., November 15, 2010 – 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 today.

"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.

About the Tree

The 40-foot blue spruce was planted on the Alvarez property more than 35 years ago, when the family purchased property between Blair and Omaha for family vacations. When the tree had outgrown the property, Sharon Alvarez contacted The Durham Museum hoping her family's tree would be chosen for the 2009 holiday season. Although it was not used that year, The Durham remembered the Alvarez family and chose their tree for the 2010 celebration.

About The Durham Museum

The Durham Museum, making its home in Omaha's beautiful art deco Union Station, is home to permanent exhibits that preserve Omaha's vibrant history, traveling exhibits covering subjects ranging from history and culture, to science and industry, and many entertaining, educational, family-oriented activities. The Durham Museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and has strong ties with the Library of Congress, National Archives and the Field Museum. Admission is free for members and children age 2 and under; $7 for adults; $6 for seniors; and $5 for children 3-12. For information about The Durham Museum, please visit the museum's Web site at www.durhammuseum.org.

About Union Pacific

Union Pacific Corporation owns one of America's leading transportation companies. Its principal operating company, Union Pacific Railroad, links 23 states in the western two-thirds of the country. Union Pacific serves many of the fastest-growing U.S. population centers and provides Americans with a fuel-efficient, environmentally friendly and safe mode of freight transportation. Union Pacific's diversified business mix includes Agricultural Products, Automotive, Chemicals, Energy, Industrial Products and Intermodal. The railroad emphasizes excellent customer service and offers competitive routes from all major West Coast and Gulf Coast ports to eastern gateways. Union Pacific connects with Canada's rail systems and is the only railroad serving all six major gateways to Mexico.

For additional information, contact Mark Davis, Union Pacific Railroad, at (402) 544-5459 or via email at mwdavis@up.com or Shawna Forsberg, The Durham Museum, at (402) 444-5071 ext. 560 or via email at sforsberg@durhammuseum.org.

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