‘Into The Wild’ bus almost came to South Dakota

Local News

CARTHAGE, S.D. (KELO) — The bus that became a shelter for hunters and others who traveled the back country of Alaska’s wilderness has finally been moved, so it can be preserved.

The bus, featured in the movie ‘Into the Wild’ that was partially shot in South Dakota, is now at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks.

But some were hoping the bus would find a final resting place here in South Dakota.

The abandoned bus where Christopher McCandless starved to death back in 1992 has been moved out of the wilderness for a couple of reasons.

One, to preserve it; the other, to keep people safe.

“Over the years, they’ve tried to have the bus destroyed, they wanted it out of there because people kept trying to hike out there and there were people getting killed,” Wayne Westerberg said.

No one knows the story of Christopher McCandless better than Wayne Westerberg.

“He was here on and off for those two years,” Westerberg said.

Westerberg hired McCandless to work for him back in the early 90’s, when he made a stop in South Dakota.

“He’d be here for a month or two and then he’d be gone for four or five months and then come back for a month or two,” Westerberg said.

Part of McCandless’ connection to Carthage started here at ‘The Cabaret’ where part of the movie was filmed.

Hollywood actor Vince Vaughn played the part of Westerberg, who acted as a consultant for the film’s director Sean Penn.

Today there is still memorabilia hanging on the walls, including pictures of the now famous bus.

People from all over the world have stopped in to retrace the steps of Christopher McCandless.

“First question is, this is where the movie was filmed? and then they see some of the stuff,” Grace said.

When Cabaret owner Travis Grace first heard that the bus was going to be moved, he entertained the idea of bringing it here.

“We just did a beer garden outside and thought, how cool would it be out in our beer garden and put it in the corner, so people could really feel and see what he lived in,” Grace said.

But moving the bus out of wild would take permits and political pull.

“There was part of a production company trying to bring the bus back to South Dakota, I mean, it came very, very close to coming to Carthage, which would have been kind of a cool thing,” Westerberg said.

Westerberg had been to the bus several times when it was in the wilderness, including when he was called in to identify McCandless’ body and belongings.

The bus will stay in Alaska for an outdoor display near Fairbanks.

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