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An abandoned 1940s Fairbanks city bus that became a popular tourist attraction after the 2007 film Into the Wild was airlifted out of the remote Alaskan wilderness by an Army National Guard helicopter on Thursday, Alaskan Public Media reports. The bus, which had sat by the Teklanika River near Denali National Park since the 1960s, sheltered adventurer Chris McCandless until he died in 1992, as depicted in the film by actor Emile Hirsch. While the bus was first made famous after Jon Krakauer wrote about McCandless in the 1990s, there were many reported incidents of tourists needing to be rescued from the remote backcountry where it resided in the years following the film’s release.
According to Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Corri Feige, there were 15 costly search-and-rescue missions related to the bus between 2009 and 2017. In 2019, a Belarus woman died trying to cross the Teklanika River to get to the bus, and another visitor drowned in the river in 2010. “We encourage people to enjoy Alaska’s wild areas safely, and we understand the hold this bus has had on the popular imagination,” Feige said in a statement. “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.”
For the film, writer-director Sean Penn had his Production Designer Derek R Hill design an exact replica bus, and the crew shot 50 miles south of where the real bus stood. Denali Borough Mayor Clay Walker said the real bus will be kept for now in “safe storage.”