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From MX missiles to cold fusion, Utah in the 1980s generated big, bold headlines worldwide.

It's all but forgotten now, but no other issue this decade divided Utah and Washington - and united the state's most disparate political factions - more than the great MX missile debate of 1980.President Jimmy Carter wanted to base the missiles on racetracks beneath the Utah and Nevada deserts, a plan which Westerners defused with political persuasion and not a little ridicule.

What was news then is history now.

For example, doctors at the University of Utah Medical Center made news and history in 1982 when they implanted the world's first artificial heart in a human. The patient,a retired Seattle dentist named Barney Clark, died after 112 days on the Jarvik-7 heart, which today is obsolete.

That same year, Christine Durham earned a mention in state history books as the first woman to become a Utah Supreme Court justice.

"I survived the floods of '83" was the T-shirt logo of that year as heavy rains and runoff caused $250 million damage in Davis and Salt Lake counties. State Street was turned into a river. Thistle drowned.

Later that summer, the stressed DMAD Dam collapsed and swamped the towns of Deseret and Oasis.


Winter preyed on Utah's deer population the following year.

But the Wilberg mine disaster was the biggest story of 1984 and remains vivid in the minds of survivors and relatives of the 27 victims, particulary at this time of year.

President Spencer W. Kimball of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints died in 1985 and was succeeded by President Ezra Taft Benson. The impact of the succession to the leadership of the LDS Church, like many other stories of the '80s, will not be confined to that decade.

Norman H. Bangerter, who ended the Democrats' two-decade-long occupation of the governor's office, will also be making news in the '90s.

So will Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann, whose cold fusion experiments continue to provoke more heat than light among scientists.

Many Salt Lake Valley residents began the '80s as residents of the Granger, Hunter and Redwood communities. But on Feb. 26, 1980, they voted themselves into a city - West Valley - which by the end of the decade had become Utah's second largest, and still growing.

Calamities, controversy, violent crime and punishment, scientific breakthroughs, a changing of the guard and politics as usual . . .

The next decade's headlines promise to be just as big and bold, so stay tuned - same place, same newspaper.


(Additional information)

Top 10 Utah News stories of the 1980s

1980 Utah targeted for MX Missile

1981 January power outage

1982 Artificial Heart/Barney Clark

1983 Spring Flooding/Thistle slide 1984 Wilberg Mine disaster

1985 Hofmann forgeries & bombings

1986 Morton Thiokol/Space Shuttle

1987 Airplane collision over Kearns

1988 Singer-Swapp standoff

1989 Cold fusion controversary

'80s recall quiz

(Match the event to the year)

1. Largest state tax hike ever--$165 million

2. Miss Utah, sharlene Wells, is named Miss America

3. Utah gains a third congressional district

4. Apartment fire kills 10 Vietnamese refugees

5. Gypsy moth quarantine of Salt Lake's East bench

6. Goldminer's Daughter lodge explosion

7. DUI drives Dave Watson off Salt Lake County Commission seat

8. Salt Lake landmark Hotel Newhouse is demolished

9. Sunset toddler Rachael Runyan is kidnapped, murdered

10. Anti-apartheid shanties provoke debate at U.

Answers: 1. 1987

2. 1984

3. 1981

4. 1980

5. 1989

6. 1985

7. 1988

8. 1983

9. 1982 10. 1986