Monday, February 7, 2011

Strange Travel Findings: Shoe Fence AKA Shoe Tree

Shoe Tree along Hwy CA-62 Rice to Vidal Junction in California
We were out on a motorcycle ride and came across the strangest sightings on Highway 62. This road was a mystery to us, and could not find any local information on what it was.
In the middle of the desert along the road we saw a fence, full of sneakers, shoes, socks and other things. This road runs parallel to some railroad tracks and for about 17 miles I saw hundreds of names along the berm of the tracks.
I assumed maybe a train crash took place there and the tree and the names were some kind of memorial for those that died. We stopped at the general store right on the border to Arizona thinking that maybe there would be a museum or a memorial or an explanation… but no such luck.
I was able to get some information later with the help of google and other smart people. This is what we found out about this stretch of highway in the middle of nowhere.

I guess there used to be a Shoe Tree where travelers would stop and leave a pair of shoes on the branches of this tree. My best guess is that the first person to leave shoes on the tree found them on the road and hung them there so maybe the owner would find them. But instead of the owner coming back to claim their shoes, a clever person

saw the shoes hanging there and decided that two pair were better than one so they left a pair there as well. Then another clever person left the third pair and so on and so on! LOL Like I said, it is just my thought, I never said it was a good one!
From what I read, the tree was the tallest thing in that area. It was decorated by the traveler who like the rest of us had more time than money; so they stopped and contributed not only to the tree but hundreds of people took the time to spell out messages in the embankment of the railroad. Names and messages written out of stones, glass, logs, railroad ties, rocks and what ever they could find. Some of these names are two feet tall!
From what I read, the tree caught on fire and looked like the end to this traveler inspired conversation piece.
Traveler’s are not a force to be reckoned with on or off the road;  the tradition would not die with the tree. A chain link fence became the new resting point for the shoes that bring a smile to those who happen down this lonesome highway.

 I am attaching some links that I found with more information and some photos from other travelers.
Click here to see someone else's photos and write up of this area.
Click here to see another write up with photos.
It looked to me, like there were a couple of places on this stretch that had sitting areas or memorials, we were so dumbfounded that we didn’t think to stop or turn around. Now of course I wish we would have, and I wish I would have taken some pictures but we passed the things so quickly and it must have taken me about 17 miles to decide to get the camera out to take photos of the names in the tracks, because I no more than got it out of my bag and it was all over!

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