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Two Mountain State timber veterans to cut U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree in W.Va.

ELKINS, W.Va. — A couple of well known timbermen in West Virginia have been selected for the honor of falling this year’s National Christmas Tree on the Monongahela National Forest.

Arden Cogar Jr. of Charleston and Ron Polgar of Elkins have been selected for their longstanding dedication to the forest industry in the Mountain State.

Cogar is very active in Timbersports and is a past world champion. He also has a long legacy in West Virginia’s forests. His family has been in the timber business in West Virginia for six generations. His late father Arden Cogar Senior cut the White House Christmas Tree in 1962 for President John F. Kennedy and cut the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree in 1976.

Arden Cogar Jr.

“I’m overwhelmed. I never thought I would ever be considered for this. I was absolutely emotionally overwhelmed,” Cogar said on West Virginia Outdoors talking about the call from the U.S. Forest Service to notify him of the honor.

Arden explained it took him a while to process the news having lost his dad in 2021.

“I can just see him up in Heaven looking down at me, shaking his head, and smiling,” said Cogar.

Ron Polgar also learned this past week that he too was selected for the honor. Ron is a 46-year veteran of the Monongahela National Forest staff and with his four years of military service has a 50 year career in the federal government. He’s a renowned botanist and a biological technician for the Forest. He’s also a noted sawyer and heads up the Forest Service program to teach the fading skill of cross-cut saw use to the next generation. He believed for those reasons he was selected.

“I got overtures of this possibly up to a year ago because of my long dedication to the saw program,” Ron explained on the show.

To make the occasion even more special the two plan to use a cross-cut saw which was used by Arden Senior and bring down the tree in the old school way.

“We’re going to use a cross-cut to start the cut, then I will use the axe to do the under cut, Cogar explained. “We will use the cross-cut saw again to do the back cut and wedges to bring it the rest of the way down, just the way they used to do it in the 40’s and 50’s before we had chainsaws.”

Polgar, who is also proficient in sharpening cross-cut saws, has already done the work on the elder Cogar’s tool and said it’s ready to go.

“I sharpened it in the last couple of weeks. I tested it, but only by myself,” he explained.

Ron Polgar

Ron admitted partnering up with Arden for the task will take some cooperation.

“Not all partners are compatible. We’ll have to work that out. I’m tall and slender and he is stout plus I have longer arms, so we’ll see how it goes. But, there is no rush for cutting this tree and it is not a competitive event,” he laughed.

The tree which was selected several weeks ago is a 62-foot Norway Spruce deep in the mountains of Randolph County. As the two men fell the tree, it will be gently lowered to the ground by a pair of cranes to insure careful handling and prevent damaging the tree as its brought down.

The National Christmas tree which stands at the U.S. Capitol is cut each year on a National Forest somewhere in the United States. This will be the third time West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest will provide the tree.

Before it is set up in Washington, the tree will travel all across West Virginia for folks to see as it makes its way to the nation’s capitol for the holidays.

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