Skinwalker Ranch

Coordinates: 40°15′29″N 109°53′18″W / 40.2581583°N 109.8883917°W / 40.2581583; -109.8883917
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Skinwalker Ranch
One entrance to the ranch
Map
Town/CityUintah County, Utah, U.S.
Coordinates40°15′29″N 109°53′18″W / 40.2581583°N 109.8883917°W / 40.2581583; -109.8883917
Owner
  • 1934–1994 – Kenneth and Edith Myers
  • 1994–1996 – Terry and Gwen Sherman
  • 1996–2016 – Robert Bigelow
  • 2016–Present – Brandon Fugal, via Adamantium Real Estate LLC
Areac. 512 acres
(c. 207 ha)

Skinwalker Ranch, also known as Sherman Ranch, is a property of approximately 512 acres (207 ha),[a] located southeast of Ballard, Utah, that is reputed to be the site of paranormal and UFO-related activities.[1] Its name is taken from the skin-walker of Navajo legend concerning vengeful shamans.

Background[edit]

UFO reports in the Uintah Basin were publicized in the 1970s.[1] Claims about the ranch first appeared in 1996 in the Salt Lake City, Utah, Deseret News,[2] and later in the alternative weekly Las Vegas Mercury as a series of articles by investigative journalist George Knapp. These early stories detailed the claims of a family that allegedly experienced inexplicable and frightening events after they purchased and occupied the property.

The ranch, located in west Uintah County bordering the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation, was popularly dubbed the UFO ranch due to its ostensible 50-year history of odd events said to have taken place there. According to Kelleher and Knapp, they saw or investigated evidence of close to 100 incidents that include vanishing and mutilated cattle, sightings of unidentified flying objects or orbs, large animals with piercing red eyes that they say were unscathed when struck by bullets, and invisible objects emitting destructive magnetic fields. Among those involved were retired US Army Colonel John B. Alexander, who characterized the NIDSci effort as an attempt to get hard data using a "standard scientific approach".[3] However, the investigators admitted to "difficulty obtaining evidence consistent with scientific publication".

Cattle mutilations have been part of the folklore of the surrounding area for decades. When Robert Bigelow, founder of the National Institute for Discovery Science, purchased the ranch for $200,000 in 1996, this was reportedly the result of his having been convinced by the stories of mutilations, that included tales of strange lights and unusual impressions made in grass and soil told by the family of former ranch owner Terry Sherman.[4][5][6][7]

Book and funding[edit]

In 2005, Colm Kelleher and co-author George Knapp published a book, Hunt for the Skinwalker,[8] in which they describe the ranch being acquired by Bigelow to study anecdotal sightings of UFOs, bigfoot-like creatures, crop circles, glowing orbs and poltergeist activity reported by its former owners.[9]

Kelleher and Knapp's book was read by Defense Intelligence Agency official James Lacatski, who contacted Bigelow and obtained permission to visit the ranch. Lacatski had a supernatural experience there, which Bigelow relayed to his friend Harry Reid. Reid and Ted Stevens, a UFO experiencer, quickly agreed that the ranch deserved attention and inserted a line into the Department of Defense budget appropriating $22 million to study unidentified aerial phenomena.[10][11]

Criticism[edit]

Skeptical author Robert Sheaffer believes the phenomenon at Skinwalker to be "almost certainly illusory", given that NIDsci found no proof after several years of monitoring, and that the previous owners of the property, who had lived there for 60 years, say that no supernatural events of any kind had happened there. Sheaffer considers the "parsimonious explanation" to be that the Sherman family invented the story "prior to selling it to the gullible Bigelow", with many of the more extraordinary claims originating solely from Terry Sherman, who worked as a caretaker after the ranch was sold to Bigelow.[12]

In 1996, skeptic James Randi awarded Bigelow a tongue-in-cheek Pigasus Award for funding the purchase of the ranch and for supporting John E. Mack's and Budd Hopkins' investigations. The award category designated Bigelow as "the funding organization that supported the most useless study of a supernatural, paranormal or occult [claim]".[13]

In 2023, ufologist Barry Greenwood, writing in the Journal of Scientific Exploration, criticized the $22 million research program led by James Lacatski. He emphasized the lack of any documentary evidence from the ranch after many decades of exploration and characterized Skinwalker as "always in the business of selling belief and hope".[14]

Ownership[edit]

  • 1934–1994 – Kenneth and Edith Myers
  • 1994–1996 – Terry and Gwen Sherman[15]
  • 1996–2016 – Robert Bigelow[15]
  • 2016–present – Brandon Fugal,[16] via Adamantium Real Estate LLC[17][18]

In 2016, Bigelow sold Skinwalker Ranch to Adamantium Real Estate LLC for around $500,000.[19] After this purchase, roads leading to the ranch were blocked, the perimeter was guarded by cameras and barbed wire, and signs were posted that aimed to prevent people from approaching the ranch.[20]

Adamantium Real Estate, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company based in Salt Lake City, Utah, filed a U.S. Trademark application for the service mark "Skinwalker Ranch" on February 15, 2017, and was approved and registered on April 14, 2020, with the mark applicable to "providing recreation facilities; entertainment services, namely, creation, development, production, and distribution of multimedia content, internet content, motion pictures, and television shows."[21][22][23] An additional trademark filing to expand use on "cups and mugs, shirts and short-sleeved shirts, sports caps and hats" was filed by Adamantium Real Estate, LLC on June 21, 2021, and was approved and registered on July 12, 2022.[24]

In March 2020, Brandon Fugal, 46, Utah real estate tycoon, announced ownership of the ranch.[15] In 2022, Fugal announced a partnership with the Hutchings Museum Institute in Lehi, Utah, designed to "better understand the environment and historical significance" of the ranch.[25]

In popular culture[edit]

Title Year Type Description
Lost Tapes 2009 TV A fictional portrayal of the ranch is featured in an encounter with a Skinwalker and the protagonists.
Joe Rogan Questions Everything 2013 TV Skinwalker Ranch is shown in Episode 5.[26]
Skinwalker Ranch 2013 Film Loosely based upon the folklore surrounding the ranch.
Hunt for the Skinwalker 2018 Film Documentary following the history of claimed phenomena at the ranch, including testimony from locals and friends of the Shermans.
Portals to Hell 2019 TV The Strawberry River Inn featured in the episode is situated a stone's throw from the ranch, and it is claimed to experience the same paranormal phenomena as Skinwalker Ranch.[27]
Project Blue Book 2020 TV Features Skinwalker Ranch in Season 2 Episode 7 including elements of various claims, such as a mysterious wolf and moving objects.
Ancient Aliens 2020 TV Mentions Skinwalker Ranch in connection to claimed shape-shifting beings and ancient astronaut theories. (episode: The Mystery Of Skinwalker Ranch)
The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch

("Curse of Skinwalker Ranch" in the UK) [28]

2020-present TV A television series on History channel, featuring "a team of scientists and experts" that uses science and technology such as lasers, ground-penetrating radar, and drone thermography as they search the property, attempting to explain claims of UFO sightings, animal mutilations, and paranormal events. Season one consists of eight episodes.[29] Season two consists of eight episodes aired in March 2021. The show was renewed for Season 3 in June 2022[30] which consists of ten episodes.
UFO (docuseries) 2021 TV Episode 102 features a description of Robert Bigelow's purchase and NIDSci's scientific study of the Skinwalker Ranch.
Herd Culling 2022 Music The lyrics for the song "Herd Culling" from the Porcupine Tree album Closure/Continuation was inspired by Skinwalker Ranch.[31]

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Actual acreage is uncertain due to possible later inclusion of the approach road(s)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Granum, Andrea (1978-09-04). "UFO Sightings Keep Uintah Basin Buzzing". The Deseret News. Retrieved 2020-03-25 – via Google News Archive Search.
  2. ^ Zack Van Eyck (1996-06-30). "Frequent Fliers?". Deseret News. Retrieved 2023-11-24.
  3. ^ Whiting, Lezlee E. (April 22, 2006). "Mysteries of 'UFO ranch' in spotlight". Deseret News. Retrieved 2020-03-15.
  4. ^ Van Eyck, Zack (Oct 24, 1996). "Utah UFO research gets money boost". The Modesto Bee. Associated Press. Retrieved 24 February 2010.[dead link]
  5. ^ Why Utah's Brandon Fugal Bought an Otherworldly Ranch, and What He's Seen There: Part 1 TechBuzz, 3 May 2021. Retrieved 17 June 2021
  6. ^ Why Utah's Brandon Fugal Bought an Otherworldly Ranch, and What He's Seen There: Part 2 TechBuzz, 4 May 2021. Retrieved 17 June 2021
  7. ^ Zack Van Eyck (1998-08-10). "Private UFO study takes a public turn". Deseret News. Retrieved 2021-07-05.
  8. ^ Kelleher, Colm & Knapp, George: Hunt for the Skinwalker: Science Confronts the Unexplained at a Remote Ranch in Utah (Paraview Pocket Books, 2005 ISBN 1-4165-0521-0)
  9. ^ Griggs, Brandon (2007). Utah Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff. Globe Pequot. p. 102. ISBN 978-0762743865.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Lewis-Kraus, Gideon (30 April 2021). "How the Pentagon Started Taking U.F.O.s Seriously". The New Yorker.
  11. ^ Benson, Eric (21 March 2018). "Harry Reid on What the Government Knows About UFOs". Intelligencer.
  12. ^ Sheaffer, Robert (May 2020). "Claims About a Government "UFO Program". How Much is True?". skeptic.com. Skeptic Magazine. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  13. ^ Randi, James (1 April 1997). "The Pigasus Awards". James Randi Educational Foundation. Archived from the original on 14 March 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2018. Category #2, to the funding organization that supported the most useless study of a supernatural, paranormal or occult, goes to Robert Bigelow, of the Bigelow Tea family. Mr. Bigelow not only gave large sums of money to Harvard University's Professor John Mack and to million-seller author Bud Hopkins on the strength of their 'alien abduction' beliefs, but also purchased (for a purported $230,000) a 'haunted ranch' in Utah where UFO attacks and 'interdimensional portals' had shown up, in the wake of mysterious 'cattle mutilations.' Mr. Bigelow lives in a walled-in home in Las Vegas.
  14. ^ Greenwood, Barry (2 May 2023). "Skinwalkers at the Pentagon". Journal of Scientific Exploration. 37 (1): 127–131. doi:10.31275/20232857. ISSN 0892-3310.
  15. ^ a b c Banias, M. J. (10 March 2020). "This Is the Real Estate Magnate Who Bought Skinwalker Ranch, a UFO Hotspot". Vice. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  16. ^ Porter, Christie (June 7, 2022). "High Strangeness at Skinwalker Ranch". saltlakemagazine.com. Retrieved July 4, 2022.
  17. ^ "Uintah County Property Search". uintah.utah.gov. Retrieved July 4, 2022. (search Adamantium Real Estate LLC)
  18. ^ "Unitah County Plat Map". co.uintah.ut.us. (parcel search)
  19. ^ Blumenthal, Ralph (2021-01-21). "Can Robert Bigelow (and the Rest of Us) Survive Death?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2024-01-23.
  20. ^ Murdock, Joshua (24 September 2016). "Skinwalker Ranch activity shifts from paranormal to prosecutable". UBMedia.biz. Archived from the original on 2019-06-16. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  21. ^ "U.S. Patent and Trademark Office - Trademark Status 'Skinwalker Ranch'". uspto.gov. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  22. ^ "U.S. Patent and Trademark Office - 'Skinwalker Ranch'". uspto.gov. Retrieved October 27, 2021. (registration certificate, Apr 14, 2020)
  23. ^ "Skinwalker Ranch – Trademark Details". Justia Trademarks. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  24. ^ "U.S. Patent and Trademark Office - Trademark Status". uspto.gov. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  25. ^ "Hutchings Museum Institute Research Team at Skinwalker Ranch". Hutchings Museum Institute. 29 September 2022. Retrieved 7 April 2023.
  26. ^ "Joe Rogan Questions Everything" Real Close Encounters (TV Episode 2013) - IMDb, retrieved 2021-03-31
  27. ^ "Strawberry River Inn". Travel Channel. Retrieved 2020-03-25.
  28. ^ "Skinwalker Ranch: The Definitive History of Utah's Paranormal Hotspot". History (UK TV channel). Retrieved 2023-06-05.
  29. ^ "The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch". History (American TV channel). Retrieved 2020-03-30.
  30. ^ "Is Season 3 of The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch in the Works?". premieredate.news. Retrieved 2021-07-05.
  31. ^ Prasad, Anil (July 2022). "Porcupine Tree: Collective Action". innerviews.org.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]