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Union Pacific Railroad Employees Carry On Omaha Holiday Tradition

45-Foot Blue Spruce is Holiday Centerpiece in The Durham Museum’s Suzanne and Walter Scott Great Hall

Christmas Tree

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    Union Pacific Railroad employees harvest Omaha’s “official” Christmas tree from the front yard of a West Omaha home. This was the 20th year the tree for The Durham Museum, formerly UP’s Union Station, was harvested in the Omaha area.

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    Union Pacific Railroad employees harvest Omaha’s “official” Christmas tree.

Omaha, Neb., November 14, 2011 – Union Pacific Railroad employees today cut and transported a 45-foot blue spruce from the home of Mary and Todd Illig in Omaha, Neb., to The Durham Museum.

"This is our 20th 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 Brenda Mainwaring, Union Pacific Railroad director – public affairs for Nebraska and Iowa. "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 more than 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. 25.

About the Tree

The 45-foot blue spruce was planted at the Illig home nearly 30 years ago by the previous homeowners, Leonard and Jane Kirchner. In recent years, the tree outgrew the property and overtook the driveway. The only way Todd Illig would agree to have the tree removed is if it was donated to The Durham for the community to enjoy during the holiday season.

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.

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; $8 for adults; $6 for seniors; and $5 for children 3-12. For information about The Durham Museum, please visit the museum's website at

Media contacts: Mark Davis, Union Pacific Railroad, at (402) 544-5459 or
Shawna Forsberg, The Durham Museum, at (402) 444-5071 ext. 560 or

The statements and information contained in the news releases provided by Union Pacific speak only as of the date issued. Such information by its nature may become outdated, and investors should not assume that the statements and information contained in Union Pacific's news releases remain current after the date issued. Union Pacific makes no commitment, and disclaims any duty, to update any of this information.