The so-called “bike tree” in Washington state features an old girl’s bike embedded in a tree, 7 feet off the ground. Today we take a closer look.
A story which has circulated on multiple social media sites over the past several years features a bike that looks to have been “eaten” by a tree on Vashon Island in Washington State. The so-called “bike tree” is real although the true story behind the bike did not surface until recently.
The bike, which is embedded in the trunk of a tree and suspended about seven feet in the air, was originally attributed to a boy who chained the bike to the tree before going off to war in 1916 – and never returned. However, that story is false. The bike was eventually dated to the early 1950’s and the real story has only recently come to light.
The bike was abandoned by a boy named Don Puz in 1954. The girl’s bicycle was given to the Puz family as a donation after a fire had claimed the life of the family’s father and destroyed the Puz house along with most of their belongings. 9 year-old Don, despite the generosity of the gift, never liked the idea of sporting a girl’s bike. He told his mother that he had lost it and couldn’t remember where he had left it.
Don’s mother Helen had relocated herself and her five children to Vashon Island after being widowed. In 2012, after reading about the bike in a local newspaper, Don and Helen (then 99-years-old) visited the tree and confirmed that it was the same bike that was abandoned some 58 years before.
Although the events surrounding the bike’s owner and era have been solved, the question of how the bike ended up in the tree remains a mystery. Puz told Komo News that he he didn’t hang it or hoist it into the tree, which was the size of a Christmas tree at the time. The two prevailing explanations are that someone manipulated the tree to encompass the bike, or that the tree naturally grew around the bike over time.
See this link for a series of photos featuring trees which have “eaten” objects in a similar fashion.
The bike has become a popular destination for tourists and hikers. Sadly, the handlebars and hard rubber tires have been stolen or vandalized and only the original bicycle frame remains. Prior to Don Puz coming forward, there had been many theories on how the bike became embedded in the tree. The bike story was incorporated into the 1997 children’s book Red Ranger Came Calling by Berkeley Breathed.
Below is a video posted in 2013 which shows how to find the bike.
Regardless of the theories and stories behind its origin, the Bike Tree of Vashon Island is in fact real and an iconic part of the history of the rural Pacific Northwest.
Updated February 24, 2015
Originally published February 2014