Fairbanks

‘Into the Wild’ bus now visible to the public as conservation work continues in Fairbanks

The infamous “Into the Wild” bus is now visible to the public again as restoration and conservation efforts continue on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus.

The abandoned 1940s-era bus once drew visitors from across the globe to its previous remote location, about 25 miles west of the Parks Highway, that marked where 24-year-old Christopher McCandless died in 1992. McCandless lived for 114 days at the bus before his death, and his story was depicted in Jon Krakauer’s 1996 book “Into the Wild,” which was made into a movie in 2007.

The site was primarily reached by navigating the Stampede Trail, a 20-mile route that includes a crossing at the Teklanika River, where two women died. The site drew scores of unprepared travelers, and officials have said there were 15 bus-related search and rescue operations between 2009 and 2017.

The bus was airlifted from the location by an Alaska Army National Guard helicopter in June 2020 after safety concerns prompted numerous calls for removal from local officials. The bus spent several months in a storage yard before it made its way to Fairbanks on a state flatbed truck.

University of Alaska Museum of the North staff, engineers and conservators began restoration work at a storage facility in Fairbanks, and the bus was moved to the the high bay lab at the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ engineering building Wednesday, the university said in a statement. The bay is visible from the building’s atrium.

The bus is slated to be exhibited outside the Museum of the North, although conservation work was expected to take two to three years to complete.

Restoration crews will take photos and 3-D scans of the bus this winter and build a structure to support the frame, UAF said. In the spring, engineering students will assist with the design and fabrication of a cover for the exhibit, according to the university.

Historical vehicle conservation specialists will make repairs and clean the bus throughout the next year, according to UAF

The museum plans to install a webcam so the bus can be viewed on its website.

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