Page 43

St. Mary's County


the twentieth century, and there is much fruitful social, economic and cultural material to be explored by scholars on this subject. In the mid-1980s the mining industry was dormant and the large cattle enterprises were no longer Utah-managed, but there were new social and scientific forces that reminded the peoples of Utah and eastern Nevada of their common destiny, for better or for worse. A few of these connections are worthy of brief mention. When the U.S. Air Force proposed the development of 4,600 M X missile sites in the late 1970s, the valleys of southwestern Utah and of southeastern Nevada were the preferred locations for their operations. During the period of intense public controversy over the proposal in 1980 and 1981, before President Ronald Reagan announced that the M X system would not be deployed in Utah and Nevada, residents of the region had frequent occasions to consider their joint resources and heritage. The trial conducted in the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City in the early 1980s by Judge Bruce Jenkins documented an ominous connection between the nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site in the 1950s and cancer deaths in Washington County. This chapter in the bistate history is far from finished. The influence of the LDS church was weak in eastern Nevada during the first half of the twentieth century, but it has greatly increased in the past three decades. That denomination has built several large new chapels in Elko, White Pine, and Lincoln counties to serve congregations that are thriving even in areas of declining population. Mormon Country is extending into the center of the Great Basin more successfully than it was ever able to do in the era of Brigham Young. Yet another significant symbol of a Utah/Nevada symbiotic relationship is the casino complex at Wendover, where a genuine border town, bridging the two cultures in a different way, is also flourishing. Wendover, Nevada, is a gambling parasite, drawing most of its clients from the Wasatch Front; and perhaps Wendover, Utah, is a parasite on Nevada's permissiveness. New casino complexes rose at a remarkable rate in Wendover, Nevada, in the early 1980s. Population projections indicate many thousands of people will live there in the year 2000. Thus Utah and Nevada continue to find ways to bridge the artificial border that unites—rather than separates—them, and, whether they like it or not, their historical destinies are likely to continue in tandem for some years to come.

Profile for Utah State History

Utah Historical Quarterly, Volume 55, Number 3, 1987