Why Chris McCandless' 'Into the Wild' Bus Has Been Removed in Alaska

The abandoned bus where the late adventurer Chris McCandless, the subject of the book Into the Wild and film of the same name, spent his last days was removed from Alaska's Denali National Park Thursday due to safety concerns following deaths and rescues in the area.

The attraction drew visitors to the site following the death of McCandless, who made the bus his home after stumbling upon it along the Stampede Trail, an old mining road. McCandless traveled through North America and hitchhiked to Alaska with minimal supplies before he found the bus.

Several hikers have attempted pilgrimages to the remote area where there is no cell phone service. It often sees unpredictable weather and swollen rivers, the Associated Press reported.

Some have died, including a 24-year-old woman from Belarus who died last year during a river crossing after spending two nights at the bus. Others were rescued after being injured or stranded, including a Brazilian tourist who was evacuated in April and five Italian tourists rescued in February, Reuters reported.

There have been 15 bus-related search and rescue operations conducted by the state between 2009 and 2017, according to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.

Back in March, members of the Denali Borough Assembly voted unanimously to have the bus removed.

Alaska Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Corri Feige said in a statement: "After studying the issue closely, prioritizing public safety and considering a variety of alternatives, we decided it was best to remove the bus from its location on the Stampede Trail."

🚐 An abandoned bus popularized by the book and movie “Into the Wild” was airlifted in the Alaska backcountry Thursday.@AKNationalGuard moved the bus as part of a training mission pic.twitter.com/xI8Fd7fGoL

— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) June 19, 2020

"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. More importantly, it was costing some visitors their lives," Feige said.

The bus was airlifted by the Alaska Army National Guard moved the bus as part of a training mission "at no cost to the public or additional cost to the state," Feige said.

Speaking to Newsweek, Carine McCandless, the sister of the late adventurer, said: "I was stunned when Commissioner Feige called to inform me, just overwhelmed with emotions. But it was a respectful, proactive conversation.

"Though I am saddened by the news, the decision made by Alaska DNR [Department of Natural Resources] was with good intentions toward public safety, and it was certainly their decision to make.

"Bus 142 did not belong to Chris, and it doesn't belong to his family. As for those that followed in his footsteps to where it rested, at the end of the day, their journey wasn't about a bus," she added.

Calling the removal "a big relief," Denali Borough Mayor Clay Walker told Reuters: "For public safety, we know it's the right thing. At the same time, it is part of our history and it does feel a little bittersweet to see a piece of our history go down the road."

The bus, which was brought to the trail nearly 60 years ago, "turned into a perilous attraction that needed to be addressed," Walker noted.

The bus is being kept in a "secure location" pending a decision about its disposal, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources confirmed in a statement.

The historic former Fairbanks city bus dates back to the 1940s and was used by a construction company to house employees during work on an access road in the area. The vehicle was abandoned after the work was completed in 1961.

Awww. This makes me a bit sad. I’ve read into the wild and watched the movie as well as other books about it. Shame they’ve moved the bus. #IntoTheWild pic.twitter.com/W5rNhCVaOE

— 🌕 (@helseyfIan) June 19, 2020

McCandless, a 24-year-old from Virginia kept a journal about his life on the bus for 114 days before he eventually died of starvation in 1992.

McCandless' story is told in the 1996 nonfiction book Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, which was later adapted as a 2007 film of the same name directed by Academy Award-winning actor Sean Penn.

Carine worked closely with Penn on the script of the film about her brother. She is also the author of The Wild Truth, which offers a closer look at the life and death of her brother.

This article has been updated with comment from Carine McCandless.

Carine McCandless Into the Wild bus 2014
Carine McCandless pictured during her own hike to the famed "Into the Wild" bus in May 2014. Dominic Peters

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