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Who owns 600 West?

The Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad? The farmers who may have turned over some of their land to the railroad for its right of way 100 years ago? Or Manti City?Settling the question of ownership may take some doing: a search of the archives at the courthouse and an official survey to provide the last word.

Lowell Clark, the owner of a Victorian home on 600 West's west side, brought the issue up with the city administration. He wants some improvement on 600 West - particularly on Historic 600 West, the area where he lives.

He's entitled to it, Clark says, and so is his neighbor, Regina Eklune. They, too, pay property taxes. Sometimes the street in front of their homes, they say, is little more than a mud hole.

The street was not always that way. For much of its route through town, the Marysvale Spur, on its way to Piute County, passed along 600 West.

The brown painted depot stood at one corner of 100 North and 600 West and a wool warehouse that shipped out thousands of fleeces stood at the opposite corner. There were other businesses in the area, too.

It was about the hottest spot in town. The trains came and went, hissing and blowing and filling up at the water tank. Clark's home was then the rooming house and the purveyor of home-cooked meals.

Traveling salesmen stopped there overnight while they worked the territory. The train crews sometimes dropped in for a fried chicken dinner.

The depot across 600 West was a social institution, the main source of news from the outside world. When the train headed south, people headed home - the day's excitement was over.

But times have changed. The Marysvale Spur is gone now. There are still a couple of thriving business in the vicinity, but much of the right-of-way is either a shambles or a rutted trail.

Lee Barton, farmer and turkey raiser, has restored the right-of-way at its north end. It's now a lush green field.

On the south end of the street, Jack Rapier, a high school teacher and coach, has bought a house in Manti's "new" home section, and he lives on a hard-surfaced road.

But for five blocks between its south end and its north end, Historic 600 West has become only an occasional street, avoided more than used.

And people say that's a shame because here is a street once known to fame - a passageway to the state's hinterland.

The city has now promised Lowell Clark that it will fix up 600 West - haul in fill dirt, do some grading, make it respectable, as labor and time become available.

But with one proviso: The city must first have a satisfactory answer to the current conundrum: Who really owns 600 West?