An Ode to the Murdered Nevada Shoe Tree

Middlegate, US 50, Nevada, US

You were quirky…

We’ve only met you once on our drive from California to our relatives’ ranch in Nevada, but you left us with such a good first impression. You were quirky and unique with hundreds of footwear hanging off you, but most importantly you were something to look forward to on this drive through the middle of nowhere.

A point of interest in an otherwise blank and empty landscape.

Nevada's Shoe Tree

Even Roadside America gave such nice words about your kind:

A shoe tree starts with one dreamer, tossing his or her footwear-of-old high into the sky, to catch on an out-of-reach branch. It usually end there, unseen and neglected by others. But on rare occasions, that first pair of shoes triggers a shoe tossing cascade.

Soon, teens are gathering up their old Adidas and Sauconys, families are driving out after church with Dad’s Reeboks and grandma’s Keds. Many inscribe messages on the sneakers in permanent marker — greetings, love poems and life accomplishments.

shoe tree

No one could have forseen that our first meeting was going to be our last. I just learned last week that some bastards chopped you down earlier this year.

Why would anyone chopped down Nevada’s most famous tree?

I don’t get it. Like most vandalisms, this just seems so random and pointless.

On a 10-hour drive on what’s called β€˜the loneliest road in the US’, the 70 ft tall Shoe Tree was something in the middle of nothing and it has provided us and other weary drivers with something to look forward to, to point to and talk about.

Never again would Jack and I be able to argue over whether we should stop at the tree on the way to the ranch, or on our way back to California from the ranch.

Never again would we able to take a break from driving to try to toss shoes up onto the branches – it’s truly harder than it looks, thus the big pile of shoes at the bottom of the tree.

Seems like minor things now but after hours of being the only car on the road, I bet you’d get excited too over the sight of a tree with hundreds of shoes hanging from it. Heck, at that point I’d even get excited over a bend in the road.

But the Shoe Tree is no more. We (and about 1500 others) mourn the loss of the Shoe Tree and curse its killers.

And the loneliest road in America is now just that much lonelier.

Darn you Shoe Tree killer(s)!

May you never find your shoes just when you need them the most.

The murdered Nevada Shoe Tree

To learn more of the legend behind the now-deceased Nevada Shoe Tree: Remember the Shoe Tree

Valuable Resources

  • Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders, for those who love anything weird and offbeat.
  • Resource Toolbox: How I find cheap flights, accommodations, and other travel hacks.

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15 Replies to “An Ode to the Murdered Nevada Shoe Tree”

  1. Well perhaps it is time for you two dreamers to start another shoe tree?

    I'm sad that I haven't been by toss a shoe. I think it would have welcomed a stiletto.

  2. That simply sucks! Someone who probably is lonely and unhappy and decided hey why not. I think I saw the tree first in a movie and didnt really know it even existed. I wanted to actually see it in person but I guess that wont be possible.

  3. I didn't even know about this tree and this post makes me soo sad! What a cool thing! Who are these horrible people that think they can deprive others of awesome things like trees with shoes!

    I'm sad you (or anyone else) won't be seeing the tree again on your drives but glad you got such awesome shots of it to share with everyone!

  4. I'm stunned. So enjoying your little story, and then… Shock! That last pic is heartbreaking. Indeed, what imbecile would do such a thing?

    Could we (someone near/passing through that part of the country) start a wholly new "Shoe Tree II" along that otherwise desolate stretch of asphalt?

  5. Wow, I've never heard of the shoe tree before, but it looks amazing!! I feel sad it's been chopped down now… It means I'll never get to meet it!! πŸ™

  6. What a shame. I'm sure you (and others) have much stronger words than "darn you" for the shoe killer, at least I do. I can't stand senseless acts of vandalism. And yes, I hope they don't find their shoes when they need them most. Karma always has a sense of finding its way…

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