Out of the wild: Magic bus likely finds new home

A replica of the 'Into the Wild' bus that was used for the movie of the same name sits at a local brewery in Healy, Alaska.
A replica of the 'Into the Wild' bus that was used for the movie of the same name sits at a local brewery in Healy, Alaska.(John Dougherty/KTVF)
Published: Aug. 1, 2020 at 4:04 PM AKDT
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After sitting in the Alaskan wilderness for nearly 50 years, Fairbanks City Transit bus 142, better known as the “Magic Bus” or the “Into the Wild Bus” may have found a new home. The Alaska Department of Natural Resources announced Thursday that the University of Alaska Fairbanks Museum of the North will likely be the new home of the bus.

“The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) looked at several criteria about our long term goals and intent for the bus and the university of Alaska Museum was the option that most closely met all those criteria,” said Jeanne Proulx, the Northern Regional Lands Manager for the Division of Mining, Land and Water with DNR.

The bus was removed in June by DNR and the Alaska National Guard. The bus has been the destination for travelers around the world after the book, and subsequent movie, ‘Into the Wild,’ told the story of Christopher McCandless who died at the bus. Adventurers seeking to visit the bus often needed to be rescued, some were injured and a few even died trying to get to the bus.

“It was becoming a significant safety issue and there were concerns for the public,” said Proulx.

Currently the bus is being stored in an undisclosed location, but the DNR is looking to find a permanent home. There have been a number of places in Fairbanks that expressed interest in housing the bus, but DNR chose the Museum of the North.

“We realized the opportunity there to use the bus as a way to talk about not just the history of the bus but of course it’s most famous 114 days when Christopher McCandless lived there and ultimately perished there,” said Patrick Druckenmiller, the director of the Museum of the North.

Druckenmiller said they are well prepared to take the bus, “We are a state repository for historical objects. We are in fact the only designated state repository in Interior Alaska.”

DNR and the museum will finalize the details soon, and once they are in possession of the bus will work to make it ready to display to the public. Druckenmiller said they plan to present the entire history of the bus, from it’s time as a Fairbanks City Transit bus, through its rise to fame.

“It’s not something we take lightly... the fact that people tried to get out to see it and that some people were injured and unfortunately a few died. That’s very much a part of it’s history that we intend to include,” He said. They are planning on making a timeline that will show what was happening with the bus during different parts of it’s history.

The bus will eventually be displayed outside on campus and will be free for the public to come and enjoy safely. However, Druckenmiller said it could take over a year before they are ready to display the bus.

Copyright 2020 KTVF. All rights reserved.

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