RIP: Shoe Tree, Highway 50, Nevada…

by George on May 2, 2011

Photograph © George A. Jardine

I originally posted a story on the shoe tree as a bit of my own personal commentary about the problems associated with spending too much time in online forums. But unfortunately, there is something less useful than throwing your shoes up into a tree, just so you can see them hanging there. According to news reports, the shoe tree was cut down by vandals in December of 2010.

So, when I’m headed west on my next road trip, I’ll be thinking of you, shoe tree. Somewhere, way out, on Highway 50.

N: 39° 17.648′
W: 117° 59.199′

(With luck, Google won’t update their street view of this quirky bit of lost Americana, for quite a while.)

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa June 10, 2011 at 2:04 PM

This is such sad news! Who would do that? Nevermind, I don’t want to know. I saw that tree in 2004 driving on the lonely highway, and I still remember it. Another small part of America lost forever. :(

George June 10, 2011 at 2:16 PM

Yeah, sad, huh?

Back in 1985, I started driving highway 50 back and forth from SF to Denver at least once or twice each year. I think when I passed that tree in 1985, I noticed that there were a couple of pairs of shoes hanging up there. The next year, a few more. By 1990, a few dozen. And it just grew. By the time this photo was taken in 2006, I’m guessing the number was several hundred… maybe 1000 pairs or more. Probably some sort of rite-of-passage for local high school kids or something, which makes me all the more appreciative, as a reformed prankster myself.

So, the story is multi-faceted. On one hand, it’s about a fun and quirky thing, that someone destroyed. But it’s also about the futility of throwing your shoes up into a tree… just so that you can see them hanging there.

Oh, well. I’m glad I got to see it grow, and photograph it once or twice.

Max Orbit May 21, 2013 at 10:39 AM

I drove Route 50 Denver to SF in May 2013. There was a big shoe tree further west but unfortunately I did not geotag the location. I posted pics on my flickr page.

Angry Bypasser August 16, 2013 at 2:32 PM

If there was any justice in the universe, the vandals who did this would be drug out to the stump, staked to it, and left there as an example.

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