Remembering the Duluth Bicycle Tree


An old “Where in Duluth?” post reminded me of the “Bicycle Tree” near the College of St. Scholastica. Eight years ago, or longer, a collection of bikes started growing on a tree … or whatever happened. I actually never saw it, I only heard about it. Fortunately, Tony Rogers has a whole gallery of photos from 2004.



about 12 years ago

Do you know if anyone ever claimed credit for this, or how they got the bikes up there, or if they got their bikes back?

Paul Lundgren

about 12 years ago

I know very little about this, but my sense of the story is that someone climbed up the tree and hung a bike for the sake of being weird and then other people did the same thing in order to improve on the art project.


about 12 years ago

It'd be pretty easy for an arborist with ropes and a harness. I hope this tree grows for another 50 years and swallows half of each bike. Then Duluth will double its tourist numbers.


about 12 years ago

Reminds me of the "Shoe Tree" at the University of Minnesota campus. The canopy of the tree is at eye-level when walking over the U of M walking bridge over the Mississippi. There are nearly a hundred pairs of shoes hung in the tree. 

There's an article in the MN Daily with an embarrassing paragraph about the grounds superintendent of the University Facilities Management. The author doubts his knowledge to tell a hackberry from a sugar maple (oops!)

But looking at the tree, it's easy to tell that it's a hackberry. Take a look!

Shoe Tree, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis


about 12 years ago

I don't know how it started either, but at the time I was a vaguely significant something something with the college.  I thought it was awesome and the students who "knew" about it were the same crunchy granola types calling the school to task on tearing down stands of trees to put up parking lots, and keeping the lid on rising tuition and housing costs.  Naturally, I encouraged this sort of radical beauty creation and student activism.  

There was a faction of the bureaucracy that fought to dismantle the bike tree and I'm sure that it is gone now.  This is all very Dead Poets Society-esque as I reflect on it.

The school was moving in a herky jerky manner from being a small Benedictine private college into a mid-sized professional school with sustainable balance-sheet and a small, Benedictine college heritage.  I think that the Bike Tree was kind of symbolic of the move from more of a quirky, homey place to a more of a slick, well-oiled machine like it is now.  

Looking back I like both versions of St. Scholastica so please, fellow alums don't take my comments as too critical.   

Tony Rogers

about 11 years ago

As the photographer of that really cool "living" and very much renegade art project, I did hear that CSS admins found out about it and got a little worried about this on their land. I can understand their fears in this crazy, lawsuit-happy "it wasn't my fault!" society. "I was climbing the Bicycle Tree on the Campus of CSS, and I fell, and the rear sprocket severed my arm, and here is my lawyer to speak on my behalf:"

The Big E

about 11 years ago

Is the U of M shoe tree still standing?  I thought it had come down.

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