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'Into the Wild' bus removed from Stampede Trail by State of Alaska

 Bus 142 is flown through the air by an Alaska Army National Guard Chinook Helicopter on June 18, 2020. (Alaska Dept. of Natural Resources Photo)
Bus 142 is flown through the air by an Alaska Army National Guard Chinook Helicopter on June 18, 2020. (Alaska Dept. of Natural Resources Photo) (KTUU)
Published: Jun. 18, 2020 at 4:43 PM AKDT
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The famed "Bus 142" on the Stampede Trail near Healy has been removed by the state of Alaska, according to the mayor of the Denali Borough.

Mayor Clay Walker told Channel 2 Thursday that a coordinated effort between the State Departments of Natural Resources, Military and Veterans Affairs, and Transportation came up with the plan to remove the bus, a longtime attraction for travelers and hikers.

The bus was made famous by the book and movie "Into the Wild" and turned into a pilgrimage site for travelers recreating the steps of Chris McCandless, who journeyed into the wilderness of Interior Alaska in 1992 intending to live off the land. McCandless died, malnourished, in the old Fairbanks transit bus that had often been used as shelter by hunters in the Healy-area wilderness west of the Teklanika River.

However, that pilgrimage didn't come easy, as a number of rescues have been made on the river either for people who crossed the river and couldn't make it back, or for parties that went down the river.

Last summer, a newlywed couple from Belarus found trouble in the river, and

.

The Department of Natural Resources says at least one other person has drowned on their way to or from the bus since 2010.

Denali Borough Mayor Clay Walker says the removal of the bus is in the best interest of public safety -- for the public and first responders.

"We do believe that the removal of the bus will lessen the attraction," Walker told Channel 2 Thursday. "Some people will still make that pilgrimage to that spot, but fewer people with that bus removed."

In March, after a rescue effort for five people in the area, Walker says the Borough Assembly was given a proposal to build a footbridge over the river, which it declined. At the same time, he said, the Assembly asked the state to remove the derelict bus.

"That river is a perilous river, and three people have died on the west side of it or in the river, and we believe the right thing to do for public safety is to remove that perilous attraction," Walker said.

The Alaska Army National Guard airlifted the bus with a Chinook Helicopter, as a training exercise and no additional cost to the state, said Corri Feige, Alaska's Commissioner of Natural Resources, in a release.

Walker said he didn't know the plan for the bus, which is now in the State of Alaska's possession. "They are putting it in safe storage currently and working on the plan."

Channel 2's Mike Ross contributed to this report.
Copyright 2020 KTUU. All rights reserved.

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