The Shoe Tree

Harland: Do you want to go see the shoe tree?

Me: The what?

Harland: A tree in the middle of nowhere with shoes nailed to it.

Me: Ok.

I’ve known the hubby long enough to trust that if he wants to hit the road to see something, it will be worth it, even if I have no idea what it will be. Saturday evening found us at The Kissel Shoe Tree near Wetmore, KS.

In the 1970s, John Kissel saw a magazine article about a shoe tree in another state. Inspired by the article, he began to nail shoes to a large cottonwood tree near his farm. Word spread about his shoe tree, and today the trunk, which measures 23 feet around, is covered with shoes.

There are a wide variety of shoes, from cowboy boots to house slippers to high heels.

Visitors have arrived from as far away as South Africa and Ireland. Some visitors write their names and addresses or short notes on their shoes.

I even found an roller skate.

This old workboot is showing its age.

And this being Kansas, someone just had to affix a “ruby slipper” to the tree.

There is a can of nails and hammer available, or if visitors choose, they can tie the laces of their shoes together, and then pitch the shoes up into the tree over a branch. Harland and I both reattached some shoes that had fallen onto the ground.

More information about the tree and directions to get there can be found here.


—–>TomorrowPeanut Butter & Chocolate Pudding Cake…It’s the best of both worlds -all in one dish!

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Cattle, corn, wheat, beans, mud, snow, ice, and drought. Plenty of fresh air and quiet. Our life is sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes joyous, but never boring.

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34 Responses

  1. Lee Ann L. says:

    Wow! I’ve never heard of anything like this until now. Very interesting.

  2. Way cool! Thanks for sharing. A farmer friend of ours, has cowboy boots on almost every fence pole around his property. People stop now and then to add boots to the fence poles some of been their a very longtime! Love the idea!


    Stop by the blog to see the first day of school pictures!

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Kristina,
      I’ve since fences too that have boots over them. Don’t know what it is for, or if there even is a reason for it.
      Just took a peek at today’s post about the 1st day of school. That brings back memories.

  3. Julie says:

    HA! that is a hoot! Thanks for sharing…Isn’t America GRAND?

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Julie,
      Thank you. Just amazing that people even find it as it is located down a gravel road in the middle of nowhere.

  4. Athena says:

    Wow. I don’t know if that is really neat or kind of awful. That poor tree! I guess it must be pretty healthy if it has that many nails in it for over 30+ years and hasn’t gotten sick/died from bugs yet. Pretty neat though as well :).

    • Suzanne says:

      Cottonwood trees have pretty thick bark so most of the nails are probably not reaching the tree inside. Don’t know if it harms he tree or not though.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Mia @ City Girl to Country Girl says:

    You know what? Someday I will also leave a shoe on that tree. =) That is so cool. We don’t have that in L.A.


  6. Shailaja says:

    A unique final resting place for the shoes!

  7. Peggy says:

    Wow! That is the funniest thing I’ve ever heard! Ha ha I would add to it. for sure.

  8. Stephanie says:

    Oh wow! This is so unreal. But it’s true ha ha… I wonder who went all the way up there to hammer their shoes so high he he…

  9. Doe of Mi. says:

    We have a shoe tree in Michigan also. When I saw it the shoes were thrown over the
    branches by the laces. Haven’t been there in 4 or 5 years so don’t know if they have
    started with nailing of not. It’s really neat.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Doe,
      I think that the nailing of the shoes was first on this tree, and then as the trunk became full, people started throwing them up into the branches.

  10. Pam Clark says:

    I just LOVE your blog. I live in Florida but am originally from the midwest and so miss some of the sights. Your blog brings back happy memories. Thank you!!

  11. Melanie says:

    That is the most bizarre thing I have ever heard of, hands down!! Wonder how they ever came up with the notion to put shoes on a tree!! Funny people! BTW–I did NOT put up the ruby slipper that says There’s no place like home!! 🙂

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Melanie,
      It is very strange to be there in person with all those shoes. It’s like a garage sale gone very wrong.

  12. Now that is really unusual! I have never heard of such a thing. People really do come up with the strangest ideas! Well, if that tree was in my neck of the woods, I would definately go visit it. You guys seem to find the most interesting places to visit! I love it! You guys really get around. I think I need to get out more!

  13. Julie says:

    That is so cool! I think we may need to take a road trip and check it out. Loved your photos!

  14. Michelle says:

    In Detroit they have a shoe tree. It’s called “The Heidelberg Project”. But it’s more like shoe tree to the extreme. The artist does trees, sidewalks and abandoned homes all along Heidelberg Street, with various items. The city is always fighting with him to clean it up, but he says it’s his art, and it remains today. I saw it about ten years ago and it was pretty cool. I got a one-on-one tour by the artist and every piece he does has a story. Detroit is pretty much a dump so anything helps as far as I’m concerned.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Michelle,
      I’ve heard about the one in Detroit. I’ll have to look that one up.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  15. Kathleen Cain says:

    I love this zany midwestern sense of the world, but OUCH! I do feel sorry for my favorite tree…

    Kathleen Cain, author
    The Cottonwood Tree: An American Champion
    (Johnson Books/Bigearth Publishing. Boulder: 2007)

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Kathleen,
      I love cottonwoods too – one of my favorite trees. They get so large and stately.
      Thank you for dropping by.

  16. Kathleen Cain says:

    I forgot to mention something else–when I was doing research for my book on cottonwood trees, I came across another Kansas original. A fella named Lyman Wetmore of Lincoln County, Kansas, hung his scythe up in a cottonwood tree during a rest break while cutting weeds. The poor guy died before he got the job finished, and the scythe hung in the tree for 13 years, by which time the tree had grown to nearly 2 ft. in diameter, engulfing the scythe. Reported in the local paper at the time. There’s a famous “Scythe Tree” near Waterloo, NY–a young farmer implanted his blade in the tree as he went off to war (the Civil, intending to retrieve it when he returned. The scthye is still there.

    Kathlee Cain, author
    The Cottonwood Tree: An American Champion
    Johnson Books/Bigearth Publishing. Boulder: 2007.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Kathleen,
      Wow, love those stories, especially the one about the Civil War soldier. Would love to see that.
      Thank you for sharing.

  17. Shari says:

    We have 2 shoe trees that I know of up here in Ontario, Canada. One is about 5 minutes away from my house and I’ve seen it listed on the geocaching website as a cache. it does say that it was a shoe tree long before it was a cache, but it’s still fun to see. My kids think it’s a hoot. It’s not as big/round as this one, but still fun. Glad to see that there are others out there.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Shari,
      I had no idea there were other shoe trees out there until I put up this post. Seems like they are all over.

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