Color me skeptical, but the cooler temperatures and elevated chances of rain from La Nina may well come true so getting rides in before October will be a priority. I’ve scheduled time to attend Street Vibrations in Reno in late September, but a day ride out to the mysterious and famous “Shoe Tree” is something I’ve been thinking about again.
Located north of Shaniko, Oregon (a ghost town with pop. of 25), near milepost 53 and about ten yards off of Hwy 97 is this lone, dead tree covered with old, worn shoes – “shoefiti.”
A “Shoe Tree”, is a tree (or, occasionally, a powerline pole or other wooden object) that has been decorated with old shoes. They generally are located alongside a major road, and may have a theme (such as running shoes). A shoe tree starts with one dreamer, tossing their footwear into the sky, to catch on a branch. It usually ends there, unseen and neglected by others. But on occasion, that first pair of shoes triggers a cascade and soon people are driving out to the tree, inscribing messages on their old sneakers and adding them to the “polymer beauty” as a work of art. According to Wikipedia there are currently at least seventy-six such shoe trees in the U.S. Technically to be a Shoe Tree there are rules. The tree should have at least 50 pairs of shoes in the branches, be publicly accessible, and known as a “Shoe Tree” by locals.
So, without any explanation this strange little dead tree, located near a ghost town makes a person wonder… who started the shoe tree and why? I’ve ridden through Shaniko in the past and spent some wind in the face time near Antelope, OR. My previous post is HERE. At the time I passed by this tree it had only a few shoes hanging from it and I made no mention in the blog. But these days it has hundreds, with more showing up all the time.
It’s a local mystery, but if you happen to be riding North along Hwy 97 at milepost 53 and you have an extra pair of shoes needing to be unloaded….add to the mystery of The Shaniko Shoe Tree.
Photo of tree courtesy of Flickr