Last month, you read about shoe trees to help lengthen the life of a high-quality pair of shoes. Today I’d like to tell you about a different, more literal type of shoe tree.
No one really knows how or why the phenomenon began, but they can be spotted all over the US. Whether in the form of cottonwoods, old oaks or ponderosa pines, these trees are decorated with dozens, sometimes hundreds, of pairs of shoes. Often they are located on lone stretches of highway, providing unusual roadside attractions and a strong temptation to contribute.
Here are a few links and photos of the shoe trees I’ve discovered via the wonders of the web. If you know of any that I’ve missed, please let me know!
The first shoe tree I learned about was east of Juntura, Oregon, on U.S. 20. According to the Boise Guardian, a local waitress explained its purpose as being “like yellow ribbons for the troops.” Sadly, the weight of the shoes and a wet winter proved too much for the tree, and Roadside America reported that the Department of Transportation removed the tree and its shoes at the end of 2007.
Another shoe tree (left), well-loved by locals but also done in by Mother Nature, was located at hole number 2 in Morley Field’s Disc Golf Course, San Diego for 30-some years. According to an article by the Union-Tribune, legend has it that the shoe tree started with a bet, where the loser had to toss his shoes into the branches. And even though the original tree is gone, shoes have already began appearing on a replacement, this time a tree near hole number 11.
Yet another shoe tree can be spotted on Highway 50 in central Nevada between the small towns of Fallon and Austin. The photos I found were taken during the winter time and add an ethereal element to the scene.
This is only a tiny sampling of the shoe trees I learned about. Wikipedia claims there are at least 78 within the United States, and an article from the Creswill Chronicle suggests eight of those are in Oregon. If you’ve got any more details or pictures, send them my way!