I saw this image in the summertime and have been saving it ever since for a special Remembrance Day post. The caption on the photo read as follows: “A boy went to war in 1914 and left his bike chained to a tree. The boy never returned, and over the years the tree grew around the bike and it remains there to this day.”
I was looking forward to finding out the rest of the story – who the boy was, how he died. But as I started digging further into it, I discovered the story isn’t true. The bike is indeed in the tree, and is a popular tourist destination on Vashon Island, in Puget Sound, Washington State. But the rest is made up.
If you’ve ever tied or nailed anything to a tree, you know trees will eventually start to envelop a foreign object. However, since trees grow from the top – not the bottom, it’s impossible that the bike would have been lifted off the ground as the tree grew. There are many legends and other stories about the bicycle tree, but the likelihood is that it’s a sculpture or practical joke, erected sometime in the 1940’s or 50’s quite on purpose.
So there was no boy. Yet this picture is somehow a poignant reminder that there were so many other boys who did leave their families and their bikes to go to war and never came back. Today we remember them and their stories.