Saints John  
Maps:          
USGS 7.5' Map: Montezuma, Keystone
Statistics:
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Moderate 5 FR 275 6.30 10,280 to 12,534 ft. Hill Climb - 2 3-4 hours
County: Summit
Adopted by:      
Managed by: White River National Forest
Dillon Ranger District
680 Blue River Parkway
Silverthorne, CO 80498
970-468-5400
Summary: The North Fork Swan River 4WD road follows the North Fork of the Swan River to its headwaters.
Attractions: Scenery, History, Mining
Seasonal
Closure:
Agency - November 23 to May 20
Best Time: June - Snow may still cover upper sections
July - Best
August - Best
September - Best
October - Early snow possible
Trail Heads
Accessed:
 
Camping: There are two dispersed campsites at the eastern end of the Saints John 4WD road near Montezuma.
Base Camp: This would be a good area to base camp with Georgia Pass FR 355, Glacier Ridge FR 258, Middle Fork of the Swan FR 6.2, Garibaldi Gulch FR 356, North Fork of the Swan FR 354, and the Golden Horseshoe network.
Fall Colors: Average - There are some small stands of aspen along the eastern end of the road.
Navigation: From Keystone, CO head east on US-6 E toward Gonala Rd/Keystone Road for 0.2 miles. Take the Montezuma Road exit and go 0.2 miles. Take a slight right onto Montezuma Road and go 4.4 miles. Turn right to stay on Montezuma Road and go 0.9 miles. Take the 2nd right onto the Sts. John 4WD road.
History: In 1861 several miners were hunting deer near the future site of Montezuma. They ran out of bullets and found some galena or that looked like lead. They cast some bullets out of the material and continued hunting. Several years later one of the men saw some silver ore from Nevada that looked just like the material he had used for casting bullets earlier. He wrote a friend from Empire, Joseph Coley, and asked him to stake a claim in the area where the galena had been found.

Coley found the area, staked the claim and set up a roasting furnace to melt down the ore and produce some silver buttons. He used donkeys to haul the buttons over Argentine Pass and brought them to a mill in Georgetown to have them evaluated. The mill said their was not enough silver to make the hauling and processing profitable. Coley decided that the ore was rich enough to process locally. By 1865 the Coley Claim was being worked at the base of Glacier Mountain. By 1867 Coleyville was growing and that same year the name was changed to Saints John by a group of Masons. The name was based on the Masons patron saints, St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist.

Saints John Smelter

Denver Public Library


Saints John Mine


The Boston Silver Mining Association hired a Cornish mining engineer, John Collum, to develop the mine and find a way to process the galena ore. Collum discovered that the normal smelter could not heat the ore enough to separate the silver. In 1869 construct started on a forced air blast furnace that would do the job. By 1872 the old mill and smelter had been replaced with the modern blast furnace. The power for the mill came from a steam engine with 13 inch cylinders and two boilers. Even the new mill could not operate profitably. By 1878 the Boston Mining Company purchased the property and improved the refining process again. This new process increased silver production and Saints John developed even more. In the 1880s Saints John peak with a post office, two hotels, a large two and a half story boarding house, but no saloons. But Montezuma had saloons and it was just down the road.

Saints John remained active through the silver crash of 1893 due to the rich ore and continued production into 1914 but the town was abandoned soon after. In 1940 the large mill and two and a half story boarding house were still standing. Today all the remains today is the superintendent's office and another build, which are both private residences.


Wild Irishman was a mining camp below the Wild Irishman mine in the late 1870's. The mine was found by Irish New York City policeman Michael Dulhaney who worked the mine wearing his old policeman's hat. Legend has it that when Dulhaney made his discovery his hollering for joy caused a flash flood down Sts. John Creek wiping out three other camps.

In the 1880's the Wild Irishman reached its peak production. Being a silver mine when the silver crash of 1893 happened it probably marked the abandonment of the mining camp.

Jessen, Kenneth Ghost Towns Colorado Style, Volumn 1, 1st ed. Loveland, Colorado: J.V. Publications, 1998. Print.
Description:
The Saints John 4WD road heads out of Montezuma passing private property. The road is graded and two lanes wide. After climbing through two wide turns the road narrows and becomes less traveled and less maintained. You will come to a creek crossing near a few buildings off in the trees. These are private residences at the Saints John town site. After crossing the creek the main mine and mill site will be on the left side of the road. There is no access as it is on private property.

Saints John Mine 2003

photo by:
Adam M

The road will continue to climb up the valley following Saints John Creek. You will pass along the edge of a wide open section of the valley before crossing the creek again and beginning to climb up toward Glacier Mountain. The road will be a bit rougher with a few rocky sections after the creek crossing. After a short switchback you will drive around the side of the Wild Irishman Mine area. As the road loops above the cabins there will be a pull off area to park.

Wild Irishman Mine cabins

photo by:
Adam Mehlberg

There are two cabins and a few other foundations scattered through the trees. Toward the east are the tailings of the mine.

Wild Irishman Mine two seater

photo by:
Adam Mehlberg


Above Wild Irishman Mine

photo by:
Adam Mehlberg

The road will continue up through four switchbacks to gain altitude up Glacier Mountain. Toward the top will be a left turn that is a short spur road to the top of Glacier Mountain, FR275.1B. Continuing on the Staints John road you will climb to the top of the ridge and then start over. At a wide spot in the road there is a small out building. Just over the ridge line to the south are the remains of the General Teller Mine.

General Teller Mine

photo by:
Adam Mehlberg

After the mine the road heads down a thin ridge with two steep down hill sections. In the picture below the Saints John road runs down the center ridge and then heads off to the right onto the wide flat ridge.

Down hill section

photo by:
Adam Mehlberg

After starting down the hill you get a good view back at the General Teller Mine along the ridge of Glacier Mountain.

Looking back at the General Teller Mine

photo by:
Adam Mehlberg

After dropping down the first steep section you will come to a left turn that runs down into the Deer Creek Valley. This is the General Teller 4WD road, FR275.1C. The road continues down the second steep section and then crosses a wide ridge top. The road is rocky, but doesn't have an real obstacles. After just over a mile you will come to another intersection. The left road is the Garibaldi Gulch 4WD road. To the left is the continuation of Staints John 4WD road. After a mile you will come to another intersection with the end of the Radical Hill 4WD road. Keep on the lookout in this area for mountain sheep.
Data updated - March 24, 2016     4WD Road driven - July 21, 2014     Copyright 4X4Explore.com - 2000-2016