Saturday, September 02, 2017
Shoe trees are found all over the world and in many of the states in the US (at least 76) but no one knows why strangers like to leave their footwear on the trees. The shoe trees are generally found near major roadways and in some very remote locations. Usually the trees become themes such as festooned with high heels. Possibly the best known shoe tree is the Navada Shoe tree which lies between Fallon and Austin on Highway 50.
Over many years travelers left pairs of unwanted shoes on the branches of the tree and now the tree is filled with every type and size shoe imaginable. Children's sneakers and adult's athletic shoes. Boots of all types: work boots, hiking boots, cowboy boots, and even a pair of rubber knee-high "hipwaders". Pumps, sandals, wing-tips, and loafers. The contents of the gum tree represent the footwear of America yet no one can explain how it all started and what it all means. Many theories prevail and most believe it started as a prank and blossomed into a fine piece of kinetic art. Others hold to the story the first pair of shoes came from an argument between a young married couple camping nearby. The husband tossed his wife's shoes into the tree to keep her from walking out on him. They later made up and went on to have a family. They returned to the tree and tossed their children's baby shoes into the branches. Since then a multitude of other people have added their own shoes to the tree and now it contains hundreds of shoes. Collections of shoes in local areas and over a long time provides useful insight into the shoe wearing habits of the populous.
In 2011, Churchill County deputies discovered the old Cottonwood tree had been chopped down by vandals.
On the side of Mount Ord on Highway 87 there was a shoe tree. Over the years people added dozens of pairs of shoes, some new and other well loved. Sadly, the trunk of the dead tree snapped and the branches flopped to one side. No one is quite sure if the tree was deliberately vandalised or had naturally fallen. Authorities collected all of the shoes and stored them to see if anyone collected them. After no one came forward the authorities did considered donating the shoes to a charity, but the shoes were very tattered and worn after being exposed to the weather elements for some time. The complete collection was thrown away.
Many of the heavily laden shoe trees become damaged with their strange fruit.