Monday, January 3, 2011

RIP Middlegate Shoe Tree

Word has it [and now we know it's true] that The Shoe Tree on Highway 50 (Google Street View) in central Nevada at Middlegate (MSRMaps), just east of Middlegate Station (MSRMaps), has been cut down, as reported here and here. The second link [now archived and not viewable without logging in] shows two pictures of the downed tree, with the tree's stump still firmly planted in Eastgate Wash, where the large cottonwood tree had been growing for many, many years. One of the two photos clearly shows the snowy Desatoya Mountains in the background, along with a bit of the eastern hills of the Clan Alpine Mountains. Thanks to @NevadaWolf for spotting this.

UPDATE 3Jan11 9:54 am: Another picture of the cut tree can be seen here.

UPDATE 3Jan11 10:53 am: The photos archived above can be viewed here and here. (Thanks, @NevadaWolf!)

Timing has been tentatively narrowed down by two sources to December 30th (from Shoefiti and the Austin Nevada Facebook page ). The first mention of this sad deed on Twitter was on the afternoon of the 31st.

People often want to know the origin of The Shoe Tree. It apparently dates back about 25 years to the early or mid-1980's, according to this New York Times article.
Middlegate (the notch through the eastern part of the Clan Alpine Mountains) will never look the same.
Neither will the view from Middlegate Station.

I took these photos of The Shoe Tree in early June, 2008. You can see more photos of the Shoe Tree here (with a few other trees).

I'll update when more information comes in; so far I haven't seen anything on any news site.

Links and Updates (dates are PST, AFIK):
Highway 50 'Shoe Tree' Cut Down (KTVN Channel 2, January 3, 2011)
Middlegate shoe tree felled (This is Reno, January 3, 2011)
Highway 50 is lonelier with "Shoe Tree" cutting (Lahontan Valley News, January 3, 2011)
Shoe Tree believed to fall victim to vandalism (This is Reno, January 3, 2011)
Fallen Shoe Tree (Flickr, Photo by ~TestShots taken about 4:00 pm, January 3, 2011)
The Tree is Gone (Jacidawn blog, January 3, 2011)
Vandals chop down famous 'Shoe Tree' on Highway 50 (Nevada Appeal, January 4, 2011)
Nevada's landmark 'shoe tree' cut down (, January 4, 2011)
People express sadness with Shoe Tree cutting (update) (Lahontan Valley News, January 4, 2011)
Famous ‘shoe tree’ chopped down by dastardly vandals (Yahoo! News, January 4, 2011)
Middlegate, Nevada - Shoe Tree - Chopped Down! (Roadside America, January 4, 2011, and ongoing tips or updates)
How sad is this? Famous ‘shoe tree’ chopped down by dastardly vandals (Loving Energies blog entries, January 4, 2011)
Vandals chop down famous Nevada 'shoe tree' (Newstalk KSRO 1350, Sonoma County, January 4, 2011 - an update)
Vandals chop down famous Nevada 'shoe tree' (Washington Post, January 4, 2011)
RIP Shoe Tree (K-Blog, January 4, 2011)
R.I.P. Shoe Tree (Partly Sunny, Chance of Rain blog, January 4, 2011)
Readers reflect on the Shoe Tree (Lahontan Valley News, January 4, 2011)
Vandals cut down Shoe Tree (Reno Gazette-Journal, January 5, 2011)
Vandals cut down Shoe Tree in Nevada (Lincoln Highway News, January 5, 2011)
US Police in Nevada are looking for vandals who cut down a local landmark known as the ‘Shoe Tree’. (TransWorldNews, January 5, 2011)
Vandals Cut Down Vandalized Tree! (Reno Rambler blog, January 5, 2011)
Some people are just mean (Modern VESPA forum, January 5, 2011 & ongoing; includes one very nice picture: Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:53 pm)
RIP Shoe Tree of Middlegate, NV (the shouting grasshopper, January 5, 2011)
O Wherefore Art Thou, Shoe Tree? (Nevada Public Radio, News 88.9 KNPR, January 6, 2011) - maybe there will be audio on this someday
Who chopped down the shoe tree!? (Mixed Drinks, Hungover Thoughts blog, January 6, 2011)
Feds take over Shoe Tree investigation (Lahontan Valley News, January 6, 2011)
BLM seeking info on vandals who cut down Nevada Shoe Tree (Reno Gazette-Journal, January 6, 2011)
Feds hunt for shoe tree's killer (SFGate, January 6, 2011)
The Soul of a Shoe Tree (NOS Outdoor Ethics blog, January 6, 2011)
Vandals cut down the 'Shoe Tree' (Ely Times, January 7, 2011)
Goodbye World's Largest Shoe Tree (RoadDog's Roadlog Blog, January 7, 2011)
The Shoe Tree (adventure. write. repeat., January 20, 2011)
'Friend' on loneliest road will be missed (Reno Gazette-Journal, January 27, 2011)

Pics and Things:
The Shoe Tree on YouTube (various dates)
Middlegate Shoe Tree - Rest in Peace (Facebook page)
Nevada shoe tree (Google image search, includes some non-Middlegate trees)
Shoe Tree (Flickr Gallery created by U.S. Yahoo! Editorial, recent unknown date)

UPDATE 6Jan2011: I'm placing most of the identical AP-related stories below and won't be adding to those further. You can find them on Google.

Similar Stories taken from AP & Lahontan Valley News:
Vandals chop down famous 'Shoe Tree' on Highway 50 (Nevada Appeal, January 4, 2011)
Vandals chop down famed Nevada shoe tree on US 50 (Daily Journal, January 4, 2011)
Vandals Chop Down Famed Nevada Shoe Tree (KLAS-TV 8 News Now, January 4, 2011)
Highway 50 Shoe Tree cut down by Vandals (The Record-Courier, January 4, 2011)
Vandals chop down famed NV shoe tree (Las Vegas Sun, January 4, 2011)
Vandals chop down famous Nevada shoe tree (Newstalk KSRO 1350, Sonoma County, January 4, 2011)
Vandals chop down famous Nevada shoe tree (SFGate, January 4, 2011)
Vandals chop down famous Nevada shoe tree (, January 4, 2011)
Vandals cut down famed Nevada shoe tree (Reno Gazette-Journal, January 4, 2011)
And many other similar/identical articles (from Google search, ongoing dates)

NOTE: Fredda Stevenson's name is misspelled in some early AP-related stories. //UPDATE: corrections have been made to some articles.

Last Updated: 29Jan2011


ReBecca Hunt-Foster said...


Silver Fox said...


Anonymous said...

Sad, but not surprising. Seems like the worst fate a tree can have is to become famous: it will eventually become the target of morons who can't stand to see other people enjoy something. A similar thing happened to a unique yellow spruce tree that grew on the Queen Charlotte Islands (see story, here: Another instance that comes to mind is that of a well-known, aesthetically gnarled limber pine that grew next to Highway 3 in the Crowsnest Pass area of SW Alberta. It too became the target of vandals (though the tree was already dead when they attacked it). See


Silver Fox said...

I once saw a painting that looked a lot like that second tree you link to, Howard.

Not sure if we'll ever know who cut the shoe tree down or why. Some thought of the tree as an eyesore, which I can possibly see as a viewpoint in winter when the leaves had fallen. In summer, it was a magnificent, tall, green tree, the only one like it on the highway between Fallon and Austin.

I've had mixed opinions about the site ever since Highway 50 became a semi-popular destination for tourists. The tree needed, but didn't have, a porta-potty or outhouse because of overuse by passers-by. I rarely stopped anymore because of that and because I like my highways less populated.