“The Middlegate Shoe Tree, located about two miles east of Middlegate Junction (and about 50 miles east of Fallon) on US Highway 50 has a few interesting stories behind it.
“According to local lore and Richard Moreno’s Backyard Traveler blog, there are two possible ways the tree came to be, both of which are related to troubles between married couples. The first has to do with an argument between a couple returning home after being married in Reno. An argument began, and the husband threw out his wife’s shoes. After a short time, they made up and were going to go on their way, but the wife insisted he throw his own shoes out as well. They threw them onto the tree and began the tradition.
“Another story has a husband and wife returning across Nevada from the east after being married. An argument ensued and the husband left his wife by the tree while going to relax at Middlegate Junction. Upon his return, the wife was still mad and threw a pair of his shoes into the tree. They left them there, and the rest is history.
“Whichever story is true, the tradition has carried on to this day. Hundreds of pairs of shoes hang from the tree, with hundreds more on the ground around it. It’s an interesting sight, and one that marks the place as something of interest on anyone’s journey down Highway 50.”
Highway 50’s Shoe Tree – Traveling Nevada Blog
Backyard Traveler Blog
If anyone has more information about why,when and how the tree was cut down, please post a comment below this story, or send an email to This Is Reno.
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. He is also a part time instructor at UNR.