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The Shoe Tree (detail)

Posted by
Stephen Phillips (San Francisco, United States) on 18 May 2011 in Lifestyle & Culture and Portfolio.

...continued from yesterday (and here is the sad part of this story)

The fact that The Los Angeles Times ran that article (yesterday) points to the Shoe Tree's widespread fame and popularity. That article was also the tree's obituary. Sometime during this past New Year's Eve night - someone with a chainsaw came up to this wonderful old tree and cut her down...

That L.A. Times piece concludes (in part):

"The roadside spectacle provided Middlegate — a 17-person cluster of RVs and modest homes — with an identity, and weary drivers with a rare and towering landmark on the 280-mile stretch of highway known as the "Loneliest Road in America."

The shoe tree was something in the middle of nothing, and perhaps that's why its destruction has been so deeply felt.

On Dec. 30, under an inky sky, one vandal, or maybe more, downed the tree with a chainsaw. The roughly 80-year-old cottonwood toppled into a gully, its branches jutting out like arms trying to flag down help...

...the depth of the mourning for Nevada's cottonwood is remarkable. Facebook groups lamented the tree's "murder." "Middlegate Shoe Tree — Rest in Peace" has nearly 1,500 members. The group "The Shoe Tree Conspiracy" intends to create art, perhaps sculpture, from the cottonwood's Nikes and Keds."

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

Ronnie 2¢ from Atlantic Shores, United Kingdom

Most of those shoes look in better condition than the ones I'm wearing . . what a sobering discovery.

18 May 2011 6:21am

Curly from South Shields, United Kingdom

It is flourishing and almost in full bloom!

18 May 2011 8:48am

Marie LC from Entre montagnes et Bretagne, France

Really impressive !

18 May 2011 9:38am

Marcie from Newton, United States

This is great!! I don't know what it means..but - what a fun find!

18 May 2011 11:23am

Eric Cousineau from Sherwood Park, Canada

Nicely captured Stephen! It is truly sad that some people take such delight in defacing and destroying property. It is a good thing they have reinstated the death penalty in California! ;-)

18 May 2011 12:51pm

Denny Jump Photo from Easton, PA, United States

The story leaves me pretty much speechless....shaking my head. WE have crimes of passion, crimes of poklitics, crimes of hate, I guess this was a crime of idiocy...Thank you for bringing this story to light, Stephen!

18 May 2011 1:09pm

Ralph Jones from Detroit, United States

Wow! This is a photographer's dream.

18 May 2011 1:27pm

Shaahin Bahremand from Tehran, Iran

oh ! why ?

18 May 2011 2:31pm

Lara from Vienna, Austria

no clue why there are such idiots in this world... :(

18 May 2011 3:33pm

Ted from South Wales, United Kingdom

clearly someone needed to reclaim a shoe!

18 May 2011 7:56pm

willow from Chelsea, United States

How fun! What a pity this treasure is no longer. Glad to see you're still up to your usual quality work!

19 May 2011 1:14am

@willow: WILLOW! - how nice to hear from you. I hope all is well with you - and thanks.

The Dark Dude from Maestoso, United Kingdom

hey dude
man, i never knew such a tree
thats unbelievable that this one's been killed
man, whats the freakin point of that?
sheesh, some people are just plain weird
dude, theres a rock in the UK with a similar thing goin on...
here's where people bring their shoes, kettles, dolls, teddy bears etc and hang em on the line, the water that drips down petrifies them, and turns them to stone

21 May 2011 9:18am

Magda from Vancouver, Canada

sad..... :(

24 May 2011 5:45pm