Montezuma mountain man looks to part with magical mystery bus |

Montezuma mountain man looks to part with magical mystery bus

Pete Lynn estimates this school bus was built in 1960 before it was used from 1972 to 1980 by Keystone Resort to transport skiers. Lynn parked the bus in Montezuma while he lived in the tiny town southeast of Keystone in the 1980s, and then he lived out of the bus for the last 20 years in Park County. He has now built a house between Alma and Fairplay and is trying to sell the bus for $20,000.
Courtesy Pete Lynn |

In the early 1980s, a Montezuma resident named Pete Lynn bought a skier transportation bus from Keystone Resort and had a friend paint over the destination, so it read Gallstone.

He drove the bus around Summit County like that for a few years, and the bus once paraded down the tiny town’s Main Street covered in underwear.

“It has a history, a colorful one,” said Lynn, now 71.

The professional carpenter turned the bus into a home that looks much like the inside of a wooden boat or the Snake River Saloon, he said, complete with a bed, kitchen, dining area and propane stove. Lynn lived off-grid in the bus in Park County between Alma and Fairplay for most of the last 20 years.

“We didn’t take that many pictures. We just drank a lot of beer or whatever. All I remember was there was more women’s underwear hanging off that bus than there is at Victoria’s Secret.”Rob IlvesLongtime friend

Now, he’s hoping someone will appreciate the bus’s history and buy it for $20,000.


Lynn moved to Summit County in his 20s and worked at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area from 1965 to 1978.

When he bought the bus for $700 from Keystone in 1980, he estimated the bus was already about 20 years old and benefited from a newly rebuilt motor.

In 1972, the ski area covered the former school bus’s yellow paint in bright red and green colors, and the bus became the first free shuttle service between Keystone and Breckenridge. Instead of transporting students, the bus delivered skiers for about eight years.

Resort officials would later regret the sale, said Brad Johnson, a former editor of the Summit Sentinel.

Johnson lived in Summit from 1981 to 1993. He shared a Montezuma house known as the Tiltin’ Hilton with Lynn not long after Lynn bought the bus, painted it white and replaced the letters “Key” with “Gall.”

“Keystone was gradually started to move, encroaching up the valley, which Pete thought was ruining everything,” Johnson said. “Keystone was not happy with him, but there really was nothing they could do to Pete.”

In the 1980s, a silver price spike caused renewed interest in mining around in Montezuma, Johnson said, and it was common for dynamite to go off on Main Street.

“There were a lot of colorful characters back in the ’80s up there, and I’m sure there still are, but Pete was definitely top of the list,” he said.

Rob Ilves, another friend and former Montezuma resident, recalled a time when Lynn drove the bus to Keystone, placed a paper bag full of mice in the resort lobby and walked away.

Then, after Montezuma residents reincorporated the town, the bus was decorated as a parade float. Ilves said his memories of the parade are a bit hazy.

“We didn’t take that many pictures. We just drank a lot of beer or whatever,” Ilves said. “All I remember was there was more women’s underwear hanging off that bus than there is at Victoria’s Secret.”


In the 1990s, Lynn painted the bus green and loaded it onto a flatbed trailer to park it in Park County.

That’s how he would deliver the bus to its new owner, he said.

“It’s drivable, but I wouldn’t drive it,” Lynn said. “It’s a parker.”

For years, the bus has been known as Lerch, perhaps after the Addams Family character, said longtime Montezuma resident Paul Hinkley, as well as because the bus lurches when it starts moving.

The bus has a brass clutch, Lynn said. “It’s built like a piece of farm machinery.”

Lynn has installed upgrades, though, including a 95-watt solar panel system on the roof that has powered LED lighting and allowed him to listen to music and watch movies.

“I’ve been off-grid around 40 years,” he said.

Years ago, when he was fit and trim, he said, he climbed about 60 feet up a nearby tree and installed a 300-watt wind generator for the bus.

The new owner could take the wind generator, too; though, he or she would have to figure out how to get it down, he said. Lynn has an electrical map and other relevant documents ready for the new owner.

“Pete’s an extremely gifted carpenter and craftsman,” Johnson said, and the inside of the bus is nicely finished with shades of cedar.

Lynn said the Berber carpet is in “remarkably good shape,” and he almost installed a bathroom.

“It was a good home for a lot of years,” he said. “It would make a good office or a small one- or two-person show.”

Besides the stories the bus could tell, Lynn added, “it’s got good vibes.”

To contact Pete Lynn, call (719) 838-1591.

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