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WORK ON PATTEN TRAIL TO EXTEND LEGACY

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The legend of John Patten - pioneer militiaman, builder, inventor - lives on in a series of renewals.

The latest renewal: The Sanpete Ranger District has announced summer plans to rebuild about two miles of the Patten Trail, making it safe and more visually exciting while prividing better access to the upper reaches of Manti Canyon.The district will spend $8,000 in state grant money and its own money and use Forest Service equipment and personnel on the project, according to Don Ollerton, assistant ranger.

A new bridge across Manti Creek will be built at the bottom end of the trail, four miles above Manti, while other structures will be built to divert small streams from the trail. Other projects including clearing brush, rocks and other debris as well as some leveling with the use of a trail machine.

The trail was blazed by John Patten more than a century ago as an entryway to big-tree country high on Manti Mountain. The wagons brought fir and pine logs down the often steep and rugged cut to the mills below.

Patten spotted one location, built a dam to impound a stream and created what today is called Patten Pond.

His trail crosses the dam, moves up the mountain to intersect the equally famous Sheep Trail, then goes on to cross Burnt Flat and rejoin the Manti Canyon Road near Milk Falls.

The Manti Irrigation Co. also has done some work on the Patten Trail, and the hope is that one day the whole 12-mile loop will provide a high-adventure ride for people on horses, four-wheelers and bikes.

"We still call it Patten Country," says Ned Madsen, who ran cattle in the canyon for 50 years.

But Patten had a more prosaic vision than recreation and adventure - he transported the water impounded in the little reservoir named for him all the way to his farm, past the Quarry Field, three miles north of Manti. The result was Patten Ditch, a frothy open stream along Manti's First East that is now safely conveyed in covered pipe.

The Patten legacy, however, is preserved in something perhaps as equally enduring as trails and irrigation systems: he built a house, constructed of stone from a nearby quarry.

To this day, architects still debate whether the house is of dry-well construction, meaning no cement was used, or whether the binding material has simply washed away.

They also wonder about another feature. There's a hugh sandstone block in the cellar - around 3 feet by 4 feet and hollowed out on the upper surface to hold water. They believe Patten built the house around the stone, which served as his refrigeration system.

Manti owns the house, which is the Patten Museum, managed by the Daughters of Utah Pioneers. The repository of thousands of pioneer artifacts is a Utah historic site and a national historic site.

"The Song of the Century," a local history, says that Patten built the first ditching machine, hay baler, hay derrick and threshing machine in Manti. And his threshing machine was unique: the first one to separate the wheat from the chaff.

His son Paul Virgil apparently inherited some of John Patten's inventive bent. He built a 20-foot perpetual motion machine. The difference: it didn't work.

And so the Patten legend lives on. For John, the founding father, things did work.