The abandoned bus made famous by both Jon Krakauer’s nonfiction book and the Sean Penn-directed film Into the Wild has been removed from the Alaskan wilderness by the Army National Guard. On Thursday, a chopper was used to remove the bus and transport it to a secure site. It was left abandoned on Alaska state land near the Teklanika River and about half a mile from the Denali National Park and Preserve.
Since the release of the 1996 book and its subsequent 2007 film adaptation which recount the journey and eventual tragic death of Christopher McCandless, fans have been attempting to visit the bus where McCandless spent his last 114 days.
However, this lure has also raised public safety concerns, thus leading to its removal. Each year, about 15 search-and-rescues are deployed to save curious and unwary hikers and fans alike from the dangers of the wilderness area. In an attempt to visit the McCandless-dubbed “Magic Bus,” a woman drowned trying to cross a river. The bus is located in an area without cellphone service and that is prone to unpredictable weather and swollen rivers, prompting the Department of Natural Resources to decide to remove it.
“We encourage people to enjoy Alaska’s wild areas safely, and we understand the hold this bus has had on the popular imagination,” Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources commissioner Corri A. Feige said in a statement. “However, this is an abandoned and deteriorating vehicle that was requiring dangerous and costly rescue efforts, but more importantly, was costing some visitors their lives. I’m glad we found a safe, respectful and economical solution to this situation.”
Into the Wild tells the story of McCandell after he graduated from Emory University at the top of his class and as a top athlete. He donated his $24,000 in savings to charity and traded a comfortable life for adventure, hitchhiking to Alaska to live in wilderness. Due to the rugged conditions and unable to call for help, McCandell starved to death in 1992.
While the infamous bus has been removed from the public for now, discussions are being held to potentially display it at a safer location for public enjoyment and view.