McCandless Foundation gives $125,000 to build pavilion for Bus 142

Bus 142 sits on a flatbed inside a large workshop bay.
UAMN photo by Kevin May
Bus 142 is moved out of the UAF engineering building's high bay into secure storage following completion of conservation work.

A $125,000 donation from the Christopher Johnson McCandless Memorial Foundation will allow the University of Alaska Museum of the North to construct an open-air pavilion for the display of Bus 142, made famous by the book and film, “Into the Wild.”

The 800-square-foot pavilion will be built in the boreal forest behind the museum, with access during museum hours via a wheelchair-accessible trail.

In 2020, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources removed the 1940s-era bus from where it was abandoned off the Stampede Trail near Healy, Alaska, and later brought it to the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The museum signed an agreement with the state to care for the bus and make it available via a free public exhibit.

The foundation’s gift will enable the museum to protect Bus 142, which has undergone extensive preservation work to mitigate damage caused by vandalism and exposure to the elements. The pavilion will shield the bus against further deterioration while allowing visitors to experience an iconic piece of Alaska history.

Established by Walt and Billie McCandless in memory of their son, the McCandless Foundation supports charities and individuals in honor of Chris’ legacy. 

In addition to the $125,000 gift, the foundation has donated archival materials, including objects and photographs from Chris’ journey in 1990-1992. The museum will include these artifacts in an indoor exhibit.

“We had been discussing what we should do with Chris’ artifacts for several years,” said John Knight, foundation chairman. “Upon learning of the museum’s ‘Bus 142’ project and their high level of professionalism, we realized this was the perfect place for them.”

Construction of the pavilion is scheduled for this summer, pending site preparation, establishment of access trails and installation of the exhibit pad. 

The museum is still seeking funds for lighting, security and interpretive materials. If these funds are secured in time, Bus 142 could be installed at the exhibit site during the summer of 2025.

While preparations are underway, the bus remains in storage. However, supporters and enthusiasts can engage with the exhibit through various mediums, including the following.

To support the access trail and site work needed for pavilion construction in 2024, visit the Support Bus 142 crowdfunding page.

For more information, visit the museum’s website or call 907-474-7505.

ADDITIONAL CONTACT: Angela Linn,, 907-474-1828