Perkins man explains the mystery of the 'shoe pole'

Perkins man explains the mystery of the 'shoe pole'
(Source: Mike Mohundro/KFVS)
(Source: Mike Mohundro/KFVS)
(Source: Mike Mohundro/KFVS)
(Source: Mike Mohundro/KFVS)

PERKINS, MO (KFVS) - If you drive through Perkins, Mo. you might see something you've never seen before, a random telephone pole with shoes attached to it.

Perkins is home to less than 100 people. Just a few hundred feet north of Perkins on Highway P, you will find a pole on the east side of the road. The pole has dozens of shoes. It had 82 shoes as of March 9.

Citizens of Perkins say the "shoe pole" has been there for decades. Nearly everyone in town has their own story of how it got started, but they all agree that it is a mystery.

Stories range from one man who found shoes on his land so he nailed them up on the for someone to claim.

Another version is that a shoe is nailed to the pole for every deadly crash that occurs on Highway P.  And there are dozens and dozens more rumors.

Heartland News caught up with the man who nailed up the first pair of shoes.

Leon Kielhofner, 86, has lived in Perkins nearly all of his life. About 40 years ago, he noticed that people kept dumping their old shoes in a creek near the telephone pole.

Kielhofner was tired of seeing it, saying it would block the drainage pipes. So, he took a pair of shoes and nailed them to the pole so that whoever ditched them there could claim them if they wanted them back. He also didn't want the shoes to back up the drainage system.

After that, the telephone pole became a place for people to nail their shoes onto. Hundreds of shoes have since been nailed to the pole. 

Several years ago, the pole was taken down by an electric company and replaced. It didn't stay bare for too long as the people of Perkins and the surrounding area began nailing shoes to the new pole again. Since then, some shoes have fallen off, but most still remain.  

"Some people would bring lifts out there and nail them up as high as they can," Kielhofner said.

Anyone in town will tell you that the shoe pole is a staple of the community. It is regularly the talk of the town. Residents say they see outside traffic from time to time stopping to take pictures of the shoe pole.

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