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The Shoe Tree

Posted by
Stephen Phillips (San Francisco, United States) on 17 May 2011 in Lifestyle & Culture and Portfolio.

Along U.S. 50 in Nevada - about 50 miles east of Fallon.

This 70 foot Cottonwood Tree has collected shoes from hundreds of people for well over two decades. Here is the Shoe Tree's Story - as reported by The Los Angeles Times newspaper...

"Fredda Stevenson sized up the despondent young man who'd slunk into her remote watering hole on U.S. Highway 50. He was thirsting for beer and, as Stevenson learned, advice.

His new bride, he grumbled, had blown all their cash on slot machines in Reno. Then they'd sped east through 100 miles of sagebrush and hills as dark and lumpy as mud pies. They camped down the road from Stevenson's bar, near a large cottonwood tree that had inexplicably thrived in Nevada's badlands. The couple started quarreling.

She threatened to walk home. He snatched her shoes, hurled them into the cottonwood's branches and said: Go ahead. Try. He stormed off with the car and ended up two miles away, at Old Middlegate Station. He polished off two beers before listening to Stevenson's sage counsel:

"You want to be married for the rest of your life? You better learn to say 'I'm sorry' now."

As Stevenson told it, the groom shuffled back and apologized. Then, at his bride's insistence, he hurled his own shoes into the tree.

That was in the late 1980s. Ever since, other passersby have pulled over and added their footwear — worn-out sneakers and too-tight pumps, ballet slippers and snowshoes. Horseshoes knotted with baling twine. Plastic stilettos from brothel courtesans (or so locals claim)."

A true story for our Silly Tuesday - and the story continues tomorrow...

© copyright 2018 by Stephen Phillips Photography / Oakland, California /
please respect these rights - do not copy or use these images without permission.

Shaahin Bahremand from Tehran, Iran

wow ! excellent job !
best capture !

17 May 2011 6:01am

DULCIE from Danville, CA, United States

Great shot...for a stubborn minute I was trying to figure out what kind of birds these were.... ;-)
Love that story !! I will tune in for more.

17 May 2011 7:05am

Ronnie 2¢ from Atlantic Shores, United Kingdom

A strange phenomenon . . how easily a trend can get set !

17 May 2011 7:53am

Curly from South Shields, United Kingdom

Ha ha, you have one too!
After the restoration of the South Marine Park in South Shields, the old shoe tree was cleaned up!
We started a new one in another sea front park a couple of hundred yards down the road.
It is not as well festooned as this one!

17 May 2011 11:14am

Eric Cousineau from Sherwood Park, Canada

Super capture and story for a Silly Tuesday Stephen! ;-))

17 May 2011 11:47am

Yonatan from New York, United States

A fascinating tree and a great story to go along. I wonder how that couple is doing now?

17 May 2011 2:06pm

Denny Jump Photo from Easton, PA, United States

What an amazing story...a coiol shot and the story is a real "kick" (boooo)

17 May 2011 2:19pm

Ralph Jones from Detroit, United States

This is fantastic! It amazes me how these things get started and grow. great story and photo!

17 May 2011 11:41pm

David from Detroit, United States

The shoes are migrating early this year. Their mating calls create a haunting sound as the sun sets behind the mountains. This is a fun shot!

18 May 2011 1:10am

Betsy Barron from Philadelphia, PA, United States


18 May 2011 12:17pm

Lara from Vienna, Austria

I shared this on facebook. it's a story worth to be spread around.

18 May 2011 3:33pm