Just a few miles southwest of Seattle, Washington, if you wander out into the woods on Vashon Island, you’ll notice something completely out of the ordinary. On that lonely isle, there is a tree unlike any other.
Every year tourists trek out to that remote location and gaze upon the special tree. And every single one of them wonders how it came to be. Now the Bicycle Tree is a source of legend and internet rumors. And it has even inspired a children’s book
But how did the old, rusted, red bicycle, get lodged in the tree more than a dozen feet off the ground?
The Bicycle Tree is the stuff legends are made out of. And because it is such an oddity, the sight alone attracts tourist attention every year. Many people have generated stories about how it came to be. And you’ve probably seen the photo before and been told one version of the tale. But did you get the truth?
The tale that has been circulating around the internet is this: A young boy chained his bicycle to the tree. But in 1914, he was called away to war and never returned for it. The tree continued to grow and consumed the bicycle, eventually lifting it off the ground. Now the Bicycle Tree has become a sort of memorial for the fallen soldier.
This tale was even the inspiration for the 1994 children’s book “Red Ranger Came Calling.” But sadly it is just not true.
First of all, America did not enter World War I until 1917 so the dates are off. And upon closer inspection, the bicycle lodged in the tree isn’t even that old. Additionally, the bicycle is suited for a 10-year-old, not an adult ready to go off to war.
Several years ago in 2009, the Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber set the record straight on the Bicycle Tree. According to the source, the bicycle belonged to long-time island resident Don Puz who had gotten the bike as a donation after his family house burned down.
But Puz hated the bike. He told the Beachcomber that it had “skinny little handlebars like a tricycle…I was too big a kid to ride it.”
Puz said he abandoned the ugly bike back in 1954 while he went exploring in the nearby woods. It was an easy way for him to say he lost it.
Fast forward to 1995. Puz and his sister returned to the island for a visit. That’s when she decided to take him to the Bicycle Tree, where Puz instantly recognized the bike he had left behind those 40-years before.
Helen Puz, Don’s 97-year-old mother, told the Beachcomber in 2009 that “everybody wanted to know how that bike got there, and I heard all these different stories. There was a girl who claimed it was her bike, but Don looked at it and said, ‘No, that’s my bike.’”
Helen isn’t surprise that the tree had grown around Don’s old bike.
“No, when you’re 97 years old nothing surprises you anymore,” she said.