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Railroad Employees Continue Omaha Holiday Tradition

40-Foot Blue Spruce is Holiday Centerpiece in The Durham Museum Lobby

Simonsen "Family Tree"

Omaha, Neb., November 16, 2009 – Union Pacific employees today cut and transported a 40-foot Blue spruce from the front yard of Eileen Simonsen in Omaha to The Durham Museum.

"This is our 18th year to harvest the tree locally and our 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's lobby and see the decorated tree for the first time is 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 massive, art-deco-patterned, terrazzo-floored main lobby by Union Pacific employees, it will be sprayed with a chemical fire retardant by a contractor and decorated by volunteers, along with employees from Mangelsen's, an Omaha-area craft store.

The fully decorated tree will be ready for the tree lighting ceremony which begins at 4 p.m. on Friday, November 27.

About the Tree

The 40–foot Blue spruce was planted 33 years ago in the Simonsen's yard near Wehrspann Lake in the Millard area.

The tree is given to The Durham Museum in memory of Janne Simonsen by his wife and family, Eileen Simonsen and daughters Cynthia and Corrine, and sons-in-law John Rademacher and Phillip Holmquist, along with grandchildren Teri, Nicholas and Michaela.

Janne had a real interest in trees. He lived his entire life in the Millard area and worked a number of years for the Chalco Hills Recreation Area, helping to plant many of the trees in the park. He was a Korean War Veteran and was awarded the Purple Heart during the Korean War.

He always enjoyed the Christmas Holidays and decorating the outside of the family home, including lighting this tree.

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

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 e-mail at or Shawna Forsberg, The Durham Museum, at (402) 444-5071 ext. 560 or via e-mail at

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