The Sole Tree Update or unusual things you’ll find in the South

Patricia Bradley Inspirational Fiction, Life, Strictly Southern 10 Comments

I’m a little early on my Strictly Southern blog, but I’ve been sick and the idea of doing an update post on the Sole Tree post sounded like a great idea–the first one was for the MBT Ponderers way back in 2011.The Shoe Tree Since that time a LOT of shoes have been added. It still amazes me how the little oak can grow out of that rocky soil!

Sometimes, even I’m surprised at what I find on the roads in the South! This tree is on Highway 72 in Northwest Alabama about a mile from the Natchez Trace Parkway. It’s about 35 miles from me on the side of Highway 72. 

Two Sunday’s ago as I returned from the Writer’s Police Academy in North Carolina–and I’ll do a post on that as soon as I get over whatever bug I picked up there–anyway I passed by the Sole Tree, as I’ve named it and discovered even more shoes than on the photo below taken in 2012.  And can you believe how the little tree has grown! Those shoes must fertilize it.

Oh, wait a minute. You may be wondering what a Shoe Tree is. Click on the link and it will take you to a website that explains how and where they got started. And you may be wonder like me, why in the world would anyone throw a perfectly good pair of shoes up in a tree.

 I don’t know. I do know there are shoe trees all over the world, and at least 75+ here in the United States. There are also rules for throwing the shoes, like they must be tied together–I guess so if someone is brave enough to climb the tree they would get a pair. I’ve also heard that the tree was started as a way to let teenagers know it was a place marijuana could be bought..but I don’t believe that. There is no way anyone would stop on that busy highway for that type of transaction.


I suspect this tree, was started by bored high school students. When I first saw it, there were about 50 pairs of shoes on it. Now there are well over a hundred. If you look closely, you’ll see a pair of purple heels. By the way, they are not mine, but I’ve actually thought about…no. bad idea. I really don’t need a pair of purple heels that badly.

The first time I saw the tree, I had to turn around and go back to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. I’ve since learned that some people actually take vacations  for the sole purpose of throwing a pair of shoes up in one of these trees.


If you’re so inclined, come on down. There’s still plenty of room on the tree. So far I haven’t succumbed to the temptation of joining the shoe throwers. But I might the next time I travel Highway 72 on my way to Chattanooga. You see, I have this pair of pink tennis shoes that I hate to throw away, so…


Would you leave a pair of shoes on a tree? Leave a comment and let me know. If ten people leave a comment, I will gift one of the commentors with an e-copy of Matthew’s Choice from Harlequin Heartwarming. Drawing to be held Tuesday night September 23. Matthew's Choice

Comments 10

  1. Jennie

    Pat,
    We have/had one here in Nevada. It had literally thousands of pairs of shoes. I’d not be wrong saying there were probably more shoes than leaves on that old tree. It was even on the map! One day, when a man found out his wife was cheating on him he took a chainsaw and chopped down the tree. Why? Because he knew she loved it. The people in the small town near it were in an uproar and ready to skin him alive. This is a true story!

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  2. Liz Flaherty

    LOL. I’m way too cheap to throw a pair of shoes into a tree! We have these collection boxes around here–for Goodwill, for books, for shoes…think I’ll stay with those. Someone started one in a nearby town, but the idea never took off.

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  3. Elaine Stock

    Okay, Pat. You caught my interest on Twitter with “shoe tree” and the chance to win your newest release 🙂 The shoe tree reminds me of what I see up here in the northeast each June when the kids get out of school for the summer: they throw a pair of laced-together shoes (usually sneakers) up on telephone or power lines. LOL. Back when I went to school I had no thoughts to get rid of a pair of shoes that would help me to kick off my summer vacation!

    Hope you feel better, especially with a conference coming up. May you have a wonderful time at conference.

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      Patricia Bradley

      Thank you Elaine! And I am feeling better. I like the Shoe Tree rather than throwing shoes on the power lines because the power company will take those shoes down. 🙂 It is really amazing to drive along and look up and see all those shoes.

  4. Sylvia M

    I would consider throwing shoes up there if they were too worn out to be used again. I guess the frugality with which I was brought up is showing. I usually wear shoes until they are worn out. That tree with the shoes is really funny though. I like traditions like this that last for decades.

    nina4sm/at/gmail/dot/com

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