What Do You Know About the Amherst Shoe Tree?
I'm going to need some help on this one. I'm looking for some history on the Amherst Shoe Tree. Clay Moden tipped me off to it when he was up that way last week. It's on Transit Road in East Amherst about midway between Wolcott Road and Millersport Highway.
As you're heading north on Transit it's on the left hand side of the road on private property. The Amherst Shoe Tree has what must be hundreds of shoes, sneakers, slippers, boots, moccasins and sandals either hanging from it or nailed to it. Who was the first to place a shoe on the tree and why? I haven't been able to find out. I wasn't able to find anyone home or flag anybody down on the property, so maybe somebody knows the history.
Reportedly there are some 75 Shoe Trees all over the country. The closest one to the one in East Amherst isn't all that far away in Lyndonville in Orleans County. Instead of one tree it's actually four trees on public land at the corner of Lake Shore and Foss Roads. And for these trees there is some background that goes back to 1986.
A woman by the name of Diane Bane had heard of a superstition that if you throw a pair of shoes in a tree and make a wish, your wish will come true. So she and her boyfriend gathered up nine old pairs of shoes and threw them up in those trees. They even went to friends and neighbors asking for any old shoes they had to add to the collection.
Local authorities had threatened to arrest and charge with littering anybody they caught adding to the collection of shoes, but after awhile they just ignored it. Decades later those shoes are still there. Whether they brought anybody any luck - we just don't know.