A look back at local, national and world events through Deseret News archives.

“How the military shell-shocked the West,” reads a headline from a recent Deseret Magazine article from colleague Matthew Brown.

Which leads to the question: Why in the world did the military bomb its own country? Again and again?

On May 15, 1955, the U.S. military finished a series of atomic tests in southern Nevada. The front page of the Deseret News the next day provided analysis by United Press International writer Murray M. Moler, who had been covering atomic testing and detonations in the West for nearly 10 years. Here is the top of his story:

“The 1955 series of atomic tests at the southern Nevada proving grounds ended Sunday with a blaze of nuclear light, but with many persons still wondering what the experiments are all about.

“The spectacular blast focused public attention on the civil defense aspects of the test as it raised havoc in Survival Town.”

Moler described the blast as the last of 14 explosions in the previous three months, and the 44th in Nevada since continental experiments began in 1951.

Utahns and their counterparts in Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado are well aware of the story. Many of our family members lived through those tests and suffered from the literal fallout of those experiments.

Though a different time and era, news organizations then and since have played a vital role in alerting the public to the actions of their own government, and where there were gaps in safety and communication.

Here is some of the impactful coverage from Deseret News archives through the years:

Shell-shocked: Military spending shaped the West — then came the fallout

Cold War weapons testing

A chronology of nuclear test at the Nevada Test Site

Skulduggery used to collect human tissue for fallout tests

What inspired Dugway n-test stories?

U.S. kept ignoring evidence about fallout’s deadly effects

Opinion: How much compensation is enough for downwinders?

‘Downwinders’ from Utah, Nevada may get extended relief

Related
We were there: See Deseret News front pages from 45 big moments in Utah, world history

A note about Moler, who died in 1990. Born in western Nevada, Moler worked for many years for UPI, covering significant military stories throughout the world. He covered the official opening of Hill Air Force Base, and was the associate editor of the Standard-Examiner for many years, and a journalist whose stories I grew up reading.

In his obituary, Moler is credited with writing 13,000 editorials and nearly 1,000 opinion columns. He is a member of the Utah Newspaper Hall of Fame.