"Into The Wild" Stampede Trail Bus Resurfaces – Now On Display At Fairbanks University Campus

Old Fairbanks Bus Makes Its Way Back Home After Years In The Wilderness  Into the Wild Bus at UAF. (Photo, JR Ancheta, UAF)  Bus Was A Dange...

Old Fairbanks Bus Makes Its Way Back Home After Years In The Wilderness 

Into the Wild Bus at UAF. (Photo, JR Ancheta, UAF) 

Bus Was A Danger To Those Seeking To Duplicate Dead Hitchiker's Experiences  

A 1940s Fairbanks city bus has finally returned to Alaska's northernmost roadside city, where it has found a home at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where it's being renovated for the museum. 

The "Magic Bus," rusting away out on the tundra near Denali National Park, had become a dangerous lure for those who  read Jon Krakauer's blockbuster 1996 book, "Into The Wild." ...And who wanted to see the remote vehicle for themselves. 

The bus was lifted from its wilderness site by the Alaska Army National Guard in the summer of 2020, and has been out of public view since then. 

Before it became known for a death that occurred there, and before it was dragged out onto the Stampede Trail decades ago, the weatherbeaten, gutted bus had once been known as Fairbanks Transit System Bus #142 and had plied the streets of Fairbanks. 

In October, 2021, after it was helicoptered from its Stampede Trail site, the bus resurfaced. It can now be viewed while being worked on by restoration crews, at the university's engineering building. 

The widely-read book that triggered the need to do something about the bus near America's tallest mountain told the story of Chris McCandless, a young urban drifter who headed out into the Alaska wilds to find himself. Instead, he found the bus. He took up residence in its rusting shell, got stranded on the distant Stampede Trail, and eventually starved to death. 

Krakauer's wildly popular book celebrated Chris McCandless' alter ego: "Alexander Supertramp." After reading the book, hundreds of avid readers came to Alaska over the years, and made the dangerous journey to the bus, traveling over trails and crossing cold Alaska streams. 

Bus arriving at Museum in 2020 (Photo, JR Ancheta, UAF) 

Local Alaskans in the nearby Healy area, along with Denali National Park personnel, were called in for arduous and dangerous rescues of bus pilgrims who got into serious trouble along the way. For years, nearby residents tried to get the bus removed. 

At least 15 rescues of people headed to the bus have been launched. Two women died. The Teklanika River, which included a river crossing, remained just as dangerous and impassable in later years as it had been in 1992, when McCandless was trapped by its rising waters as the summer progressed. 


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