On Vashon Island in Washington, tourists looking for memorable activities or fun things to do often visit an old, rusty bicycle trapped in the fork of a tree. Legend says the bicycle belonged to a boy who abandoned it in 1914 to fight in World War I. Over the decades, the story goes, the tree grew around the bike and gradually engulfed it. The tale’s poignancy comes in part from the mystery surrounding the boy’s fate. Did he die in the war, or did he come back a grown man with no more use for childhood things? The truth of the bike is less exciting than legend.
The Real Story About the Bicycle in the Tree
The Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber, the island’s local newspaper, explains that the bike belonged to an ordinary man named Don Puz. According to Don, he abandoned the bike in the forest in 1954 and merely forgot about it. Don didn’t care much for the bike, having receiving it as a gift after his house burnt down. The tires were too hard for his taste, and the handlebars were much too thin. Since he was too big to ride the bike comfortably, he didn’t bother looking for it after he’d left it behind.
Don Puz Abandons His Bicycle
Don Puz emerged as the owner of the bicycle in the tree after seeing newspaper headlines about its discovery. According to Helen Puz, Don’s mother, Don and several friends were hanging out in the forest. Since Don was the only one who’d brought a bicycle, he left it behind when the other kids decided to head home on foot once they were done with their activities. Don recognized his bike in the newspapers right away. However much Don disliked the bike, its unique appearance was hard to forget.
How the Tree Engulfed The Bicycle
Many people remain puzzled over how the tree could have swallowed the bike. Trees don’t typically grow from the trunk up. If the tree was a sapling when its owner abandoned the bike, however, the tree may have forked around the bike and slowly enclosed it as it grew. Trees have been known to trap items close by. Some myths claim the bike’s owner must have chained it to the tree before abandoning it, but Don Puz has never mentioned doing so. In all likelihood, no one will ever find out exactly how Don’s bike got swallowed by a tree.
The Current State of the Bike in the Tree
Tourists and Vashon residents looking for interesting things to do nearby like to check out the strange sight of the bike in the tree. The bike now rests about 7 feet above the ground. It’s even inspired a children’s book by Berkeley Breather, “Red Ranger Came Calling,” and some people suspect the bike was intentionally positioned to grow in the tree. Whatever the truth of this tourist attraction, the bike is slowly being destroyed. Nearby vandals and thieves have taken parts from the bike over the years, such as handlebars and tires, forcing business owners close by to install vintage parts on the bike as replacements. Some people want to build a fence around the bike to protect it, but the damage has been done. Anyone wishing to visit the bike can find it about 50 paces into the forest south of the King County bus stop near the intersection of SW 204 Street and Vashon Highway.