With sadness, the Sardis community in Mabelvale is facing the inevitable loss of a longtime landmark and beacon of heritage, the Sardis Shoe Tree. It is a tree that has stood for decades in the middle of an intersection at N. Sardis Road and Hogue Road, famously because for whatever reason, it has become a place to hang pairs of shoes. See related stories at the end of this article, but first, here’s information from Saline County Judge Jeff Arey, who had to make the difficult decision to remove the tree for public safety reasons.
The health and safety of our citizens is first and foremost and our top priority. I am extremely aware of the important significance of the shoe tree in the Sardis Community but, the said truth is, the tree is dead. Dead trees are dangerous because they do fall and can injure or kill someone. For this reason, we will be removing the shoes and taking down the tree on Wednesday, June 14th.
On June 1st, I met with members of the Sardis Community in a public meeting held at the Sardis Community Center regarding the Sardis Shoe Tree. At that meeting, members in attendance heard from both Randy Ellison with the Arkansas Forestry Commission and Greg Rooney, a certified arborist. Both explained that the tree was dead and, that in a least two different areas at the base of the tree, it was hollow. The tree also has a very deep and wide split that runs from the base of the tree up to about 8 foot high and is very unstable.
One of my responsibilities as County Judge is the maintenance of roads and road right-of-ways. It is not uncommon for the County Road Department to cut dead trees that are located in the right-of-way and last year alone we cut close to 40 dead trees that were located in the right-of-way. We do this because dead trees do fall and are a danger to the health and safety of those traveling on those roads.
I know and understand the important historical significance of this Sardis Shoe Tree, that is why I asked that a Committee be formed consisting of Sardis residents to help figure out a way to commemorate the tree. The Committee met and decided to have the shoes removed and placed temporarily at the Crone Storage Center for individuals to go and pick up their shoes if they like. The Committee also decided that, if the tree is in salvageable condition, they would like to see a portion of the tree removed and carved into something that would act as a symbol to remember the tree. If a portion of the tree can be salvaged and carved, that portion of the tree will be placed at another location determined by the Committee.
On June 14th, Hogue Road will be closed from the intersection of North Sardis to East Killdeer and traffic will be re-routed onto East Killdeer. Sections of North Sardis Road near the shoe tree will be one lane only with flaggers present. Please be prepared to stop while the work is being done. If you are planning to watch the removal of the tree, please avoid parking on the side of the road, stay behind any safety barriers that are present and keep a safe distance from the tree.