Bus 142 Timeline
This 1946 International Harvester K-5 likely rolled off the assembly line looking much like a typical yellow school bus of it’s day, later to adopt the green & white uniform of the Fairbanks City Transit System. By 1961 Bus 142 had retired from navigating Alaska’s city streets. It was gutted & refitted, then towed into the wild to support a construction crew building a mining access road. After the project was abandoned, Bus 142 remained behind with a broken axle, to be stumbled upon 30+ years later by Chris McCandless a.k.a. Alexander Supertramp.
Journey Begins on Stampede Trail
Learn more about the earliest wild days of the iconic “magic bus” from its very first resident, a then ten-year-old girl in the midst of a summertime family adventure.
Christopher McCandless / 113 Days
A young idealist documents his time in the wild using the bus as basecamp. His terse journal details elation & tragedy on the back pages of a book he’d purchased in the University of Alaska bookstore before heading for the Stampede Trail.
An Obsessed Writer Investigates
Extreme climber & journalist, Jon Krakauer, is assigned to unravel the mystery of the starved hiker for Outside magazine. His article, Death of an Innocent, generates copious amounts of mail to the magazine, bolstering Jon’s fixation on digging deeper into the story.
Into the Wild is Published
After following the footsteps & delving into the psyche of Chris McCandless for three years, Krakauer’s book becomes a surprise international bestseller. Chris’s sister, Carine, is taken aback by this, and will come to regret not sharing the rest of the story.
The Pilgrimage Begins
Inspired individuals from around the world begin to travel to Alaska to visit Chris’s final resting place on the Stampede Trail. Most will arrive safely at Bus 142 to pay their respects without incident. However, an unfortunate pattern of unprepared hikers also begins, and dangerous, costly rescues become part of the continuing story.
A Sister’s First Visit
Arriving by helicopter with Jon Krakauer, Carine McCandless emotionally prepares herself to visit Bus 142 fifteen years after her brother’s death. By this time Into the Wild is published in more than thirty languages.
Into the Wild in Theaters
Writer/Director Sean Penn’s impassioned decade-old request to adapt the book to film is finally granted. The resulting movie is widely & critically acclaimed, further expanding the story’s global following.
Movie Soundtrack Release
Bolstering the creative spirit of the film, Into the Wild reaches into an entirely new genre as a growing audience hears the story through the lyrical talents and powerful voice of Eddie Vedder.
Rescues / Accidents Increase
Mounting numbers of worldwide enthusiasts amplifies the traffic on the Stampede Trail, as well as the mistakes of some travelling on foot.
1st Drowning at the Teklanika River
Claire Ackermann, a vibrant twenty-nine year old triathelete from Switzerland died while attempting to cross the same river that trapped McCandless. Fast moving high waters swept Claire & her hiking partner off their feet, and the rope that she’d improperly tied onto for safety, pinned her beneath the current.
Misconceptions about McCandless, as well as accumulating rescues of his followers, fuel the frustration of locals who believe the destruction of the bus will stop the pilgrimages. Chris’s sister, Carine, vows to further explain the reasons behind his extreme behavior, and joins a group of Alaskans warning travelers of the dangers.
The Wild Truth is Published
The students Carine McCandless works with, the continual messages received from around the world, and her aid to domestic violence victim’s organizations leads Chris’s sister to write The Wild Truth. The book further explains her brother’s motivations for disappearing and pushing himself to extremes.
2nd Death at the Teklanika
Veranika Nikanava from Belarus, twenty-four, lost her life while returning from the bus. She’d been hiking with her new husband just weeks after they exchanged vows. Nika was swept away by the strong currents, her body recovered downriver. Concerned locals ramped up their calls for the removal of Bus 142.
Leaving Stampede Trail
On June 18th, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources assisted by the Army National Guard, extracted the bus from its 6 decades-long perch above the Sushana River. The DNR cited public safety as their primary consideration, as well as a desire to preserve the bus’s integrity for future visitors.
Bus Moves to New Home
In September, sixty years after being towed down the Stampede Trail and twenty-eight years after McCandless’s passing, Bus 142 returns to Fairbanks. It will take residence at Museum of the North on the University of Alaska campus, where Chris had purchased his journal before walking into the wild.
Preservation Work Begins
After completing a thorough assessment, the museum moves Bus 142 to the UAF Engineering Building’s high-bay lab. This glass walled space allows for conservation work to be completed regardless of weather conditions while providing free visual access to the public for the first time since the bus was removed from the Stampede Trail.
Major Grant Awarded for Conservation Work on Bus 142
A grant of $500,000 was awarded to the University of Alaska Museum of the North to complete the necessary conservation work to prepare Bus 142 for its permanent public exhibit. The funds were awarded from the Institute of Museum and Library Services as part of the “Save America’s Treasures” grant.
B.R. Howard & Associates, Inc begins Conservation Work
The hands-on conservation work has begun, to prepare Bus 142 for its future outdoor exhibit. UAF is livestreaming the bus throughout this phase of process.