Twenty-four-year-old Christopher McCandless divested his inheritance, sold his personal property, and departed on his “spiritual journey into nature.” He fashioned himself a modern-day Thoreau, heading ultimately to Alaska. McCandless died in August 1992. His life was immortalized in John Krakauer’s 1996 national best seller Into the Wild. After the book’s publication, many ventured into the wilderness to locate the infamous Bus 142. Two people died, one in 2010 and the other in 2019, and at least 15 people rescued, The Alaska Department of National Resources coordinated with the Alaska Army National Guard to remove the bus off Stampede Train in the Denali National Park and set it to a fate unknown.
The 1946 International Harvester bus was used by the city of Fairbanks for a couple of decades. By 1960, it was housing employees of the Yutan Construction Company. Once the roadwork was completed, the bus was abandoned where it was. Over the decades, it served as a respite and shelter for hikers. In 1992, Christopher lived in it, chronicling his journey and living off a bag of rice and the land. Sadly, he died in the bus. Although Christopher sought a simple life of obscurity, he became a legend—and inspiration for other lost souls, thrill seekers, and naturalists. Ultimately, their treks into the wilderness became a nuisance and hazard.
Bus 142, also known as the Magic Bus, was airlifted by a CH-47 Chinook helicopter and transported to a “safe location.” The state is considering placing the bus, along with a suitcase left by Christopher’s family members, as a monument to his life. Plans have not been publicly disclosed.