Photo by Roger Topp, Courtesy of UA Museum of the North
Bus 142 in front of UAMN en route to the conservation yard. In photo: Brittany Templeton (DNR), Dianna Leinberger (DNR), Pat Druckenmiller (UAMN Director), Angela Linn (UAMN Senior Collections Manager for Ethnology and History, Kate Ripley (UAF Interim Director of Development), Morgan Dulian (UA Foundation).
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September 24, 2020
Stampede Trail bus arriving in Fairbanks for conservation work
CONTACT: Marmian Grimes, 907-460-4750, firstname.lastname@example.org
The 1940s-era bus made famous by the book and film “Into the Wild” arrived in Fairbanks this week so that staff at the University of Alaska Museum of the North can begin conservation work.
The former Fairbanks city bus—known as Bus 142—will eventually be displayed by the museum. The Alaska Department of Natural Resources earlier this year removed the bus from the spot where it was abandoned off the Stampede Trail near Healy, Alaska. The museum and DNR signed a formal agreement this week that assigns long-term stewardship of the bus to the museum.
“Bus 142 is an international icon and a fascinating piece of Alaska’s history,” said museum director Patrick Druckenmiller. “Our museum is honored and excited to work with the Bus 142 community and share its story in a safe and respectful manner with our visitors.”
The bus gained notoriety after the release of Jon Krakauer’s 1996 book “Into the Wild” and 2007 film of the same name, which told the story of Chris McCandless, a 24-year-old man who died at the bus site in 1992. Over the years, the bus became a sometimes hazardous destination for visitors, some of whom became lost or injured in their attempts to reach the bus, which required crossing a remote river. Two people in the last decade have died trying to visit the bus, which prompted DNR to take steps to reduce the risk of future injury and death.
The DNR, with the assistance of the Alaska Army National Guard, moved the bus to a storage facility near Anchorage in June. In July, the DNR announced that it planned to house the bus at the UA Museum of the North.
“We at DNR understand that Bus 142 represents the spirit of independence, love of wilderness and more to people around the world,” said DNR Commissioner Corri Feige. “We are grateful that the Museum of the North has agreed to work with us to preserve and display this important historical and cultural artifact, so that visitors to our state can continue to experience and be inspired by the bus, without having to risk their safety or lives to do so.”
The museum’s preservation and interpretation work is expected to take at least two years. The work includes cataloging the bus and objects associated with it, hiring a conservation team that specializes in historic vehicles, and fully documenting the history of the collection.
Once the work is completed, the museum hopes to exhibit the bus in the wooded area north of the museum parking lot, with a short trail and interpretive signs to describe the bus’ history.
The museum has also launched a fundraising effort to support the preservation, interpretation and exhibition of the bus. More information can be found on the museum’s website.
ADDITIONAL CONTACT: Dan Saddler, Alaska Department of Natural Resources,