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In December of 2021, one of Santa’s elves decorated a small pine tree in Whitesburg, Kentucky. The site was a trestle that had been abandoned by the railroad many years prior. In recent years this trestle, which was originally double-tracked, had been made part of an exercise trail on one side. The other side had grown up in weeds and small trees. There is a fence on either side of the exercise trail, so the elf must have thought it would be a good choice of locations since it would be seen by many, but separated so that it wouldn’t be tampered with.

The mystery of how the decorations appeared and the novelty of its being outdoors caused its popularity to grow. One man took a picture of it to send to his grandchildren. A woman who had never personally seen the tree, saw a picture of it on social media and had a friend render it in watercolor. That painting now hangs in city hall.

The elf probably never expected that the tree would become an inspiration to many because of the fact that it grows out of a rotten railroad tie rather than the ground. However, now it is commonly thought of as a triumph of perseverance over adversity.

In early March, a leprechaun added green tinsel with small shamrocks to help prepare us for Saint Patrick’s Day. Unfortunateley, after heavy snows the tree was lying almost flat on the ground, worrying some that the decorations were harmful to its survival. However, when the snow melted the tree would resurrect triumphantly.

Roy Crawford shared some original themes (the A and B sections of the completed work) with Donald Sorah in the Spring of 2022, commissioning a Grade III-IV composition for wind ensemble to be premiered with the KYVA Winds (Dr. Jason Griffith, director) in Whitesburg, just a few yards front the Trestle Tree itself on June 21. The work was transcribed for orchestra in November 2022.

The Trestle Tree - Donald Sorah

  • Click HERE to listen to a midi mock-up.

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