FACT CHECK: Does This Photo Show A Tree Growing Through The Bicycle Of A Fallen WWI Soldier?
An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows a tree embedded with a bicycle that was abandoned by a soldier who died after going off to war in 1914.
The bicycle was actually abandoned by a child in the 1950s.
The image shows a tree engulfing a rusted bicycle that is suspended above the ground in a wooded area. “A boy went to war in 1914 and left his bike chained to a small tree,” text in the image states. “He never made it home, and his family left the bike by the tree in his memory. This is that tree today.” (RELATED: Did Nancy Pelosi Say Soldiers Overseas Should Not Be Able To Vote Because ‘They Don’t Even Live Here’?)
However, the story behind the image that the post offers is inaccurate. The bicycle was actually left by the tree by a child in the 1950s, according to the Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber. A 2013 ABC News article reports the bicycle can be found on Washington’s Vashon Island and once belonged to Don Puz. He received the bike as a gift when he was 8-years-old, according to ABC News.
Puz, the former King County deputy sheriff, told The Seattle Times in 2014 that he left the bike in the wooded area in the 1950s. He said he recognized the bicycle when his sister took him to visit it in 1995, after the tree had become a local landmark, the outlet reported.
“We went down there in the woods, and there was this bike in the tree, and I said, ‘That’s my bike,’” Puz told the Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber in 2009. “I recognized it immediately. … When I saw that bike, I recognized it, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen another one like it.”
University of Washington Department of Biology professor Elizabeth Van Volkenburgh posited that the bicycle had probably been hung in the tree later after the tree grew older, rather than being lifted off the ground by the tree’s growth, according to The Seattle Times.
The claim that the bike was left by a soldier going off to war in 1914 has circulated online for years, according to Snopes, which debunked the myth in 2012.