Christmas at the Durham Museum

Last week, I photographed the cutting and installation of the Christmas tree for the Durham Museum, marking the start of an annual holiday tradition in Omaha — the tree lighting ceremony at the former Union Station.

Every year area residents offer up their trees for the Durham to use. Most of trees are ones the owners are planning/needing to cut down. While I have seen trees cut down many times, I have never seen anyone try to preserve most of the tree while doing it.  It is an interesting process that I tried to relay through photos.

Workers from Union Pacific used a lift to attach a strap from near the top of the tree to a crane. After they sawed through the trunk, the crane held the tree so it wouldn’t fall over. The tree then was loaded on a truck and began the journey from southwest Omaha to the Durham museum.

The next trick was to take a photo that showcased the unique situation of a tree getting a police escort down Dodge Street.  I chose to photograph the scene from the pedestrian bridge just east of UNO with a long telephoto lens (500mm). That gave me the reach to get a nice tight shot of the tree coming over the crest of the hill just west of 62nd Street. I was fortunate that the light turned red and some people cross the street at that moment. The man on the bike rubbernecking sums it up for me.


I loved how it brought people from the community out to watch the Union Pacific workers get the 45-foot tree into the museum. The grandmother had intended to bring her grandchildren to the museum that day but it is closed on Mondays (except from Nov. 28 through Dec. 26).  They had heard the tree was being brought to the museum so she took them to watch. They went home with souvenir pine cones that had fallen from the tree.
















Click here to see a slideshow of the whole process or click here to see a slideshow of past Christmas celebrations at the Durham Museum/Union Station.

Chris Machian

About Chris Machian

I was born in Omaha, graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a journalism degree in 2004 and have spent most of my life here. I was a photo intern with the Omaha World-Herald in 2003 and had various roles with the company before becoming a staff photographer. I love to shoot UNO hockey and last year placed video and still cameras inside the goal to provide our readers with another unique perspective. My goal is to use available technology in ways that help our readers understand the stories we cover. For instance, in 2011 I used Gigapan technology to provide a wide view of flooded areas while allowing users to zoom in on the smaller details. My love of this job extends beyond disasters and sporting events; I also enjoy covering the events that help define Omaha's cultural landscape.
This entry was posted in Viewfinder, Viewfinder - carousel, Viewfinder - Featured and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Jim Lamb says:

    Very cool shots here Chris! I love that one of the tree being brought up Dodge.

  2. Chris – nicely done! I love the perspective you show with the tree proceeding down the street. very compelling imagery.

  3. Chris Vacanti says:

    Chris – great pictures and write up. I am grateful you remained true to the point: this is a Christmas Tree…not a holiday tree as is stated on the front page of

  4. [...] This photo just makes me laugh, a police escort down Dodge street.  This was a fun assignment all around. [...]