FALLON - U.S. Highway 50, billed as the "Loneliest Road in America," lost one of its landmarks last week to vandalism.
The 70-foot cottonwood tree known as the "Shoe Tree," one mile east of Middlegate was cut down sometime late Thursday night or early Friday morning.
"There are a lot of angry people," said Middlegate bartender Travis Anderton. "That (tree) helps out business. People come out to see the Shoe Tree."
"Somebody did this in the middle of the night," said the 25-year-old Anderton.
He first learned of the incident when several customers stopped at the Middlegate Bar and Restaurant, about 50 miles east of Fallon, and told him about it. Anderton said one patron told him the cut was fresh.
"Sawdust was over the snow," Anderton said the man told him. "But I am curious why someone wants to do that."
Anderton's grandmother Freeda Stedenson is planning a memorial at the site of the tree on Feb. 13 from 2:30-5:30 p.m.
Rick Gray, executive director of the Fallon Convention and Tourism Authority, is another person who is outraged and hopes authorities can find the culprit or culprits..
"It was a quirky landmark on the Loneliest Road in America," he said.
When people toured the area, Gray said, visitors would marvel at the number of shoes tossed onto the limbs. Like a Christmas tree with its ornaments, the Shoe Tree had hundreds of sneakers, baby shoes, high heels and boots dangling from the many branches.
The Churchill County Sheriff's Office took a report on the incident, but District attorney Art Mallory said he has not seen the report as of Monday.
"This is a historic landmark, and it has a lot of meaning and tradition for people," he said.
When Mallory and his wife first visited Nevada, he said they drove across the state on U.S. Highway 50 and stopped to see the tree.
If anyone has information on the incident, please call the CCSO at 423-3116.