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.

  • Bus 142 on the Stampede Trail at Savage River in 1961


    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.

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  • 1992

    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.

    See Chris’s Journal

  • Outside Magazine Cover


    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.

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  • Into The Wild Book Cover


    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.

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  • Hikers on the Stampede Trail

    Spring 1996

    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.

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  • Carine McCandless at Bus 142 in 2007

    Summer 2007

    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.

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  • Into the Wild Movie Poster

    Fall 2007

    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.

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  • Eddie Vedder Into the WIld Album Cover

    Fall 2007

    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.

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  • Alaska State Troopers Helo 1


    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.

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  • Claire Ackermann

    August 2010

    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.

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  • Vandalism of Bus 142


    Vandalism Increases

    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.

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  • The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless Book Cover


    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.

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  • Veranika Nikanava

    July 2019

    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.

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  • Bus 142 Under Alaska National Guard Chinook Helicopter

    Summer 2020

    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.

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  • University of Alaska Museum of the North

    Fall 2020

    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.

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  • University of Alaska Museum of the North


    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.

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  • Bus 142 at UAF

    October 2022

    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.

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  • Conservation Work on Bus 142 at UAF

    January 2023

    B.R. Howard & Associates, Inc begins Conservation Work

    The hands-on conservation work began, to prepare Bus 142 for its future outdoor exhibit. UAF livestreamed the bus throughout this phase of the process.

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  • Conservation Work on Bus 142 at UAF

    October 2023

    Conservation Work Completed

    With the preservation requirements finished, Bus 142 moved back into storage until its permanent shelter at the museum would be built.

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  • Outside Magazine Article

    January 2024

    Outside Magazine Revisits Bus 142

    Thirty years after Jon Krakauer’s article introduced Chris to the world, Outside journalist Eva Holland returned to explore why Bus 142 had become a historic relic.

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Stampede Trail Tundra