Abandoned bus made famous by ‘Into The Wild’ movie is airlifted from the Alaskan wilderness after increasing numbers of tourists had to be rescued and two drowned trying to reach it

  • 1940s-era bus was made famous by 24-year-old adventurer Chris McCandless who died in summer 1992
  • It was abandoned by construction workers just west of Teklanika River in Alaska at some point since 1946
  • McCandless lived in the rusted bus for 113 days over the summer of 1992 eating only foraged plants and game
  • His decomposed body was found 19 days after his death inside his sleeping bag by two moose hunters 

A 1940s-era bus where a 24-year-old adventurer starved to death in the Alaskan wilderness has been removed after tourists died while trying to reach it.  

A US Army helicopter airlifted the vehicle from the spot just west of the Teklanika River, where it had been left to rust for more than half a century.

The bus was made famous by Into The Wild, a book and film that told the story of Chris McCandless’ death after he lived inside it for 114 days during the summer of 1992. 

Its removal Thursday came after the state was called to 15 bus-related search and rescue operations between 2009 and 2017, according to the Department of Natural Resources. The bus was blamed for encouraging risky hikes as adventurers crossed dangerous terrain trying to find it. 

Two travelers died after drowning while on their way to the vehicle in separate incidents in 2010 and 2019, officials said. 

Author Jon Krakauer told Mr McCandless’ story in the 1996 book Into The Wild, which was adapted into a 2007 film directed by Sean Penn.

The book and film tell the story of a young idealist who wanted to remove himself from society by hitchhiking to Alaska to live in the wild with very few supplies.

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The bus was made famous by Into The Wild, a book and film that told the story of Chris McCandless’ death after living in the bus for 114 days just west of the Teklanika River during the summer of 1992

A US Army helicopter was brought in to airlift the vehicle from the spot where it had been left to rust for more than two decades. It was removed after officials were called numerous times to reports of adventurers in trouble after trying to hike to the site where the vehicle was

The 1940s-era bus, known as The Magic Bus, was on the Stampede trail by the Teklanika River in central Alaska from the time it was abandoned in the mid 20th Century up until this month

McCandless survived for 113 days in the wilderness with only 10 pounds (4500 g) of rice, a .22 caliber rifle, several boxes of rifle rounds, a camera, and a small selection of reading material—including a field guide to the region’s edible plants

McCandless (played by Emile Hirsch) died sometime around the week of August 18, 1992, after surviving more than 100 days on edible roots and berries, as well as an assortment of game. He had planned to hike to the coast but the boggy terrain of the summer proved too difficult, and he decided instead to camp in a derelict bus (pictured) left by a construction company

He survived for 113 days in the wilderness with only 10 pounds (4500 g) of rice, a .22 caliber rifle, several boxes of rifle rounds, a camera, and a small selection of reading material—including a field guide to the region’s edible plants. 

By the time he realized he wanted to rejoin society his route was blocked by a snow-melt raging river and he was later too weak to make the hike.

The National Guard had previously said the bus was a public safety issue because it was luring fans of McCandless to venture out into the dangerous Alaskan wild.

The National Guard had previously said the bus was a public safety issue because it was luring fans of McCandless to venture out into the dangerous Alaskan wild

There were 15 bus-related search and rescue operations by the state between 2009 and 2017, according to the Department of Natural Resources

Two travelers died after drowning while on their way to the vehicle in separate incidents in 2010 and 2019, officials said. Last July a newlywed woman from Belarus died after she was swept away by the Teklanika River while trying to reach the bus with her husband

As recently as February, Alaska State Troopers rescued five Italian hikers, one of whom suffered severe frostbite. Alaska State Troopers said the five Italians were rescued from a camp they set up after visiting the dilapidated bus on the Stampede Trail near the interior town of Healy

Last July a newlywed woman from Belarus died after she was swept away by the Teklanika River while trying to reach the bus with her husband. 

As recently as February, Alaska State Troopers rescued five Italian hikers, one of whom suffered severe frostbite.

Alaska State Troopers said the five Italians were rescued from a camp they set up after visiting the dilapidated bus on the Stampede Trail near the interior town of Healy.

The hikers were found 13 miles from the trailhead, Trooper spokesman Tim DeSpain said. He didn’t know how far they were from the bus.

Rescuers were alerted by the hikers with a satellite-based emergency device that notified the International Emergency Response Coordination Center of a medical emergency, troopers said. 

Corri A Feige, commissioner for the Department of Natural Resources, said the bus will be stored at a ‘secure site’ while the Department of Natural Resources considers a permanent place for it

That international group then notified rescuers, who reached the site by snowmobile, DeSpain said. 

Locals had called for authorities to reduce or eliminate the danger caused by the bus, the National Guard said.

Corri A Feige, commissioner for the Department of Natural Resources, said: ‘We encourage people to enjoy Alaska’s wild areas safely, and we understand the hold this bus has had on the popular imagination.

‘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.’

The bus was removed by a CH-47 Chinook helicopter. The aircrew also ensured the safe transportation of a suitcase that holds sentimental value to the McCandless family, the National Guard said.

Mr Feige said the bus will be stored at a ‘secure site’ while the Department of Natural Resources considers a permanent place for it.

What happened to Chris McCandless in the Alaskan wilderness, according to Into The Wild?

Written in 1996 by Jon Krakauer, Into The Wild told a version of 24-year-old Chris McCandless’ story.

In 1990 the adventurer graduated, gave his $24,500 college fund to Oxfam, cut communication with his parents and began a journey of thousands of miles across Western US. 

Krakauer used a mixture of photographs and extracts from McCandless’ journal to piece together a version of what he believed happened to the bright Emory University alumnus. 

At one point early in his journey McCandless crossed the border into Mexico before hiking back into the US.

At Lake Mead he was forced to abandon his car after it got caught in a flash flood, and he labored for months as a grain elevator before hitchhiking more than 3,000 miles to Alaska. 

Written in 1996 by Jon Krakauer, Into The Wild told a version of the story of 24-year-old college graduate Chris McCandless. The adventurer gave his $24,500 college fund to Oxfam, cut communication with his parents and began a journey of thousands of miles across Western US

In December 1991, McCandless arrived at Slab City, in the Imperial Valley, and met Tracy Tatro (pictured, played by Kristen Stewart), a teenage girl who showed interest in McCandless, but he rejected her because she was underage

McCandless headed down the trail with only 10 pounds (4500 g) of rice, a .22 caliber rifle, several boxes of rifle rounds, a camera, and a small selection of reading material—including a field guide to the region’s edible plants

McCandless shed his legal name early in his journey, adopting the moniker Alexander Supertramp. 

On April 28, 1992, McCandless made it to the Stampede Trail in Alaska. A friend noted he wasn’t brilliantly prepared and offered more supplies, which he refused.

A film adaptation was released in 2007, directed by Sean Penn  (pictured)  

McCandless headed down the trail with only 10 pounds (4500 g) of rice, a .22 caliber rifle, several boxes of rifle rounds, a camera, and a small selection of reading material—including a field guide to the region’s edible plants.

He died sometime around the week of August 18, 1992, after surviving more than 100 days on edible roots and berries, as well as an assortment of game.

He had planned to hike to the coast but the boggy terrain of the summer proved too difficult, and he decided instead to camp in a derelict bus left by a construction company.

In July, he tried to leave after realizing his life would be better with others in it, only to find the route blocked by a snow-melt raging river. 

On July 30, McCandless wrote a journal entry which read, ‘Extremely Weak. Fault Of Pot. Seed’.

Krakauer had Hedysarum alpinum, commonly known as wild Eskimo potato, tested for any poisons and discovered that it contained an unidentifiable form of toxin.

According to Krakauer, a well-nourished person might consume the seeds of the plant and survive because the body can use its stores of glucose and amino acids to rid itself of the poison. 

But after a diet of rice, lean meat, and wild plants McCandless had less than 10 per cent body fat when he died. This cause of death suggestion has sparked debate, with others disagreeing over what caused the adventurer’s demise. 

Another suggestion has been toxic mushrooms. In his 430-word journal, at No. 89 of 113 numbered entries, McCandless wrote: ‘Many Mushrooms. DREAM.’

He died sometime around the week of August 18, 1992, after surviving more than 100 days on edible roots and berries, as well as an assortment of game. He had planned to hike to the coast but the boggy terrain of the summer proved too difficult, and he decided instead to camp in a derelict bus (pictured) left by a construction company

In July, he tried to leave after realizing his life would be better with others in it, only to find the route blocked by a snow-melt raging river. On July 30, McCandless wrote a journal entry which read, ‘Extremely Weak. Fault Of Pot[ato] Seed’. Krakauer had Hedysarum alpinum, commonly known as wild Eskimo potato, tested for any poisons and concluded it was what killed McCandless

DREAM is written in the largest, boldest letters of any word in the journal, and there are large, dark arrows connecting mushrooms to the word DREAM 

Two weeks after his death, his body was found by moose hunters. 

A film adaptation was released in September 2007, directed by Sean Penn and starring Emile Hirsch as McCandless. 

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