From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|Region:||Uintah County, Utah|
A precise site has never been publicly announced or confirmed, but the ranch is supposed to cover 480 acres relatively near to the Utah cities of Roosevelt and Vernal. Its name comes from the "Skinwalker", a supernatural being in Ute folklore.
Tom Gorman and his wife (not their real name), sometimes called Terry and Gwen Sherman, bought the ranch from absent owners in the autumn of 1994, intending to raise cattle. After reputedly experiencing what they believed to be paranormal activity, and citing personal stress, the family tried to sell the ranch in 1996. Some regional press outlets picked up news of the alleged phenomena shortly afterward.
The National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS), which funds study of the paranormal, purchased the ranch for $200,000. The ranch featured in the media again in 2002 when NIDS gave Las Vegas Mercury reporter George Knapp access to the ranch. Knapp wrote a two-part article (in an arguably sensationalist tone) which was published in the now-defunct alternative newsweekly Las Vegas Mercury in November 2002.
A detailed book about the ranch and the NIDS investigation, co-written by NIDS researcher Colm Kelleher and Knapp was published in December 2005. The authors insisted that standard scientific protocols were followed in the investigation at the ranch, and that scientists and researchers witnessed bizarre phenomena, but there has been no independent verification of those claims.
A Utah talk radio host, Steven Rinehart, claimed in December 2006 on the air to have visited the ranch. He subsequently posted photographs of the ranch and directions to it online (and a Google Earth link), along with purportedly unidentified footprints he found in snow near the ranch. According to Rinehart, each print was about 17 inches (0.4 m) long, and appeared to have been made by a large, bipedal creature.
 Reported activity
A wide variety of paranormal activities have allegedly been encountered at the ranch.
Many of the more unusual phenomena were transient, sometimes happening only once, or often reported as just occurring for a couple of weeks and then disappearing forever, making it difficult for investigators to get results or draw firm conclusions.
 Unidentified vehicles
A refrigerator-shaped object about the size of an RV with a white light at the front and a red light at the back was reported by the Gorman family prior to NIDS' arrival. The vehicle allegedly retreated from Gorman and his nephew as they approached it. It then floated up into the clear sky and flew away. The vehicle bore a limited resemblance to a Chupa, a type of UFO reported in Brazil.
The locals call those types of lights "ghost lights", and the Gormans claimed the lights can also come towards people in fashion as if to play a game of "chicken".
 Orbs and floating lights
Glowing orbs of various colors, particularly orange and blue, were allegedly seen on the property. They were described as ranging from basketball- to baseball-sized, and some contained what appeared to be swirling liquid. These objects were allegedly capable of affecting electrical items, particularly lights merely by their presence, and of melting animals, such as dogs. This was possibly due to extreme heat or radiation that might have emanated from the orbs.
Another phenomena observed by the Gormans were large orange circles that floated in the sky and occasionally expelled orbs and unidentified beings. Mr. Gorman claimed blue sky was visible through one such circle he witnessed at night.
One of them took on a human form and blasted a dog with lightning, causing it to melt.
 Cattle mutilations and strange creatures
- One ear being cut off;
- Excision of the cattle's genitals;
- The cattle being cored out from the anus;
- Exsanguinations, some of which took place very quickly (20 minutes on one occasion).
Numerous encounters with unidentified or strangely behaving creatures allegedly occurred on the ranch. In some tales the creatures were reminiscent of dogs or hyenas. The first unusual encounter the Gormans had on the ranch involved what appeared to be a very large wolf on one of their first days after moving to the ranch. The animal was not aggressive towards the family, but when it attempted to capture a calf, Mr. Gorman shot at the creature. The shots apparently had no noticeable effect and the creature eventually left the homestead.
Other creatures including what appeared to be Bigfoot, and an unknown creature that was almost transparent like the invisible beast from the movie Forbidden Planet, were also encountered on the property.
 Poltergeist activity
Trickster or Poltergeists-like activity was reported both inside the Gormans home and out on their property. Claims included doors opening and slamming shut, materials like salt and pepper being switched, and objects disappearing and reappearing later in strange places. One story told of four large bulls disappearing from a pasture, only to be later found, seemingly entranced. in a cramped cattle trailer. The Gormans also reported on instances of what sounded like heavy machinery being moved beneath the ranch, and unintelligible voices emanating from the sky.
 Terrain alterations and unusual landmarks
Other strange phenomena involving dirt, grass and ice allegedly occurred on the property. These included several hundred pounds of soil being mysteriously removed from the ground, crop circles appearing in long grass on the property, and an ice disc appearing in an irrigation channel..
 Explanations and criticisms
The apparently paranormal activity reported on Skinwalker Ranch has led some individuals and groups to seek viable explanations. Others have countered with criticisms of the claims and the claimants.
 Proposed explanations
A range of broad explanations has been put forward to explain the strange phenomena at the ranch.
Some critics have claimed the reports are a hoax on the part of the Gorman family, with the support of NIDS or local reporters. Knapp and Kelleher regard a hoax explanation as highly unlikely, citing the detailed NIDS investigation,, and the fact that the Gorman family seem to have made their public claims about the strange activity at ranch out of desperation (the family claimed to suffer severe financial hardship due to multiple cattle deaths).
NIDS considered hallucination or delusion as an explanation for the supposed events; Knapp and Kelleher argued this was a plausible explanation for some of the events witnessed and reported on the ranch, but that it failed to explain all of the phenomena.
An explanation which has gained support in some circles states that the ranch being a U.S. military testing area, or falling within a broader testing area, for advanced United States military technology. However, as noted by Knapp and Kelleher, this explanation does not fully explain all the phenomena reported from ranch, and is furthermore unconfirmed.
Some Utes who live in the region believe the phenomena are related to a Navajo curse. Their folklore tells that the Navajo sent Skinwalkers to punish the Ute. The ranch is off limits to the Ute as they are reported to say, "The ranch is in the path of the Skinwalker." Junior Hicks, a retired schoolteacher and local researcher living in the Uinta region, claims contacts amongst the Ute have told him that the Skinwalker lives in Dark Canyon, beyond the ranch, within a cave decorated with centuries-old petroglyph depicting Skinwalkers. This response does not explain all of the phenomena witnessed on the ranch.
Another general explanation is the intrusion of alternate realities, parallel universes, higher dimensions, or rips in spacetime, which may be connected with the orange portal. Both the Apache and the Hopi have folk traditions which might be interpreted as depicting travel between different dimensions. Louis L'Amour's Haunted Mesa is a best-selling novel dealing with similar concepts. This explanation might explain the diverse array of phenomena encountered at the ranch, but is problematic given our current lack of understanding about time travel and quantum physics.
A somewhat similar explanation revolves around the concept that our understanding of reality is fundamentally flawed. This may be explained by Michael Talbot's ideas that we live in a Holographic Universe. Equally it could be explained by the simulation argument, as put forward by philosophers like Nick Bostrom, which posits that we are living within a very convincing computer program, as popularized by the The Matrix movie trilogy. As noted by Knapp and Kelleher, these ideas are undermined by a lack of solid physical evidence.
Unique geology which ties in the concept of Earthlights, also known as Ghost lights, has also been raised to answer the broad phenomena reported on the ranch. The fact that the Uintah Basin is the only known major concentration of Gilsonite (also known as uintahite or uintaite) may or may not have some bearing on this. However, a lack of evidence and the scope of the phenomena weaken such an explanation.
Finally, some posit that all the paranormal activity has been caused by mundane events, objects and animals, which have been misinterpreted by people with vivid imaginations and a sincere belief what they are seeing is genuinely paranormal. While this theory is probably valid for some of the reported events and sightings, the sheer range and nature of the strange activities weaken it.
Critics of NIDS and the Skinwalker Ranch stories claim that the activity reported at the ranch is problematic for a number of reasons.
- The wide variety of phenomena, and their sporadic appearance, make falsifiable and even quantifiable scientific investigations extremely difficult.
- As of 1996 the land has belonged to NIDS: a secretive, and by some accounts inactive organization that rarely lets outside groups investigate the ranch's alleged phenomena or verify their findings.
- That paranormal groups and reporters both have a vested interest in sensationalizing and exaggerating the claims, as a means of raising money and/or increasing publication sales. The reporting of George Knapp can be seen as an example of this.
- NIDS has reported that the paranormal activity has taken a steady nosedive since 2005. This development, combined with NIDS becoming inactive for other reasons has resulted in the Skinwalker Ranch investigation being put on hiatus, and brings into question the veracity of the alleged phenomena in general.
- The accounts by the Gorman family were largely anecdotal, and NIDS investigators were not able to collect enough noteworthy evidence on the ranch to change the minds of skeptical critics.
The author of the Hunt For Skinwalker appear on radio show Coast to Coasta AM in Feb. 2006 to give updates that the strange phenomena has started up again, and that they now have security guarding the premises, and anyone trespassing will be persecuted.
 Similar sites
 Specific locations
Skinwalker ranch is rare thanks to the broad range of the reported phenomena. But there are other paranormal hotspots containing a wide variety of paranormal phenomena, although researchers and investigators often focus on UFO activity.
- Dulce, New Mexico. NIDS established a presence in the area in 1998 and 1999, based at Mount Archuleta, and interviews with local people, especially the Jicarilla Apache, revealed large numbers of similar reports (UFOs, Bigfoot, cattle mutilation and so on).
- The Yakama Indian Reservation, an area of increased alleged UFO activity. One family reported voices, strange noises, poltergeist activity, shadow men, flying balls of light, strange flying vehicles, disappearing people and telepathic voices.
- Elbert County, Colorado where one family encountered strange aircraft, numerous Bigfoot sightings, cattle mutilations, mysterious voices and encounters with humanoids and flying vehicles as well as a strange small box which stole a tree.
- San Luis Valley where local journalist Chris O’Brien has charted a wide range of unusual phenomena and describes the area as a "paranormal Disneyland" 
- Sedona, Arizona which, as well as its famous vortex and New Age beliefs, has one ranch, belonging to the Bradshaw family, that has reported similar events including strange lights, Sasquatch, encounters with grays, cattle and dog mutilation and a portal through which they could see another world.
 Common characteristics
It is worth noting that these similar locations share some of the following characteristics with Skinwalker Ranch:
- They are situated in rural areas;
- The large majority of nearby residents earn incomes lower than the national average;
- There are military bases relatively close by; and,
- Many areas have a strong local Native American presence.
The connection between Skinwalker Ranch, these other similar locations, and Native Americans is of particular significance. Several hotspots hosting similar alleged phenomena to those reported at Skinwalker Ranch are connected in some way to the Ute.
The Navajo once occupied the San Luis Valley, and the Ute allied with the Jicarilla Apache to displace them. The Ute homeland once stretched across Colorado, including Elbert Country to San Luis Valley, and crossed into New Mexico and Arizona.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m 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)
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Path of the Skinwalker, George Knapp, 28 November 2002
- ^ The Daily Grail Wiki, Robert Bigelow, 21 July 2006
- ^ Shows, Steven Rinehart, Show Archives
- ^ Dispatch, Steven Rinehart, Investigative Journalism Dispatch, December 28, 2006 (in Microsoft Word format)
- ^ Rigorous Intuition blog, Bad Medicine part 2, Jeff Wells, 25 January 2006
- ^ Photo gallery of birds spotted in Utah, UtahBirds.org
- ^ Persinger, M.A. & Derr, J.S. (1985) Geophysical variables and behavior: XXIII. Relations between UFO reports within the Uinta Basin and local seismicity. Perceptual and Motor Skills. 60. 143 - 52.
- ^ The End of the National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS), Dale Stephens, July 2004
- ^ a b AboveTopSecret.com Interview with George Knapp - Part I, Springer, 22 July 2006
- ^ LasVegasNOW.com, George Knapp, 21 December 2005
- ^ The Daily Grail, Review of "Hunt for the Skinwalker", Greg, 25 March 2006
- ^ Long, Greg: Examining the earthlight theory: the Yakima UFO microcosm (J. Allen Hynek Center, 1990 ISBN 0-929343-57-3)
- ^ Good, Timothy: Alien Contact: Top-Secret Ufo Files Revealed. Chapter 3: Colorado Breakthrough (Quill, 1994 ISBN 0-688-13510-2)
- ^ Creatures, Human and Otherwise, Of The San Luis Valley, Sean Casteel
- ^ Dongo, Tom & Bradshaw, Linda: Merging Dimensions: The Opening Portals of Sedona (Light Technology Publications, 1995 ISBN 0-9622748-4-4)
 See also
- John Keel — who reported similar overlapping anomalous phenomena in his investigations.
- Hessdalen lights — one of the few other localities that has been subjected to long-running scientific explanation of mystery lights and related phenomena.
- The alternative newsweekly, Las Vegas Mercury, referenced herein, ceased publishing in March 2005. George Knapp's column, Knappster, was moved to Las Vegas CityLife, also owned by Stephens Media Group.
 External links
- NIDS homepage which contains two preliminary reports:
- Path of the Skinwalker the original news article which broke the story. Published in two parts on 21 November 2002 and 28 November 2002 in the Las Vegas Mercury.
- Official site for the book, "Hunt for the Skinwalker"
- Las Vegas Based Scientists Study "Skinwalker Ranch"
- Utah's UFO Ranch
- NIDS Studies Paranormal Ranch
- NIDS — Robert Bigelow
- Bad Medicine, part one of a multipart blog entry on the topic
- Bad Medicine, part two
- The End of the National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS)
- Is A Utah Ranch The Strangest Place On Earth? — narrative based on "Path of the Skinwalker" by G. Knapp
- Coast to Coast AM Radio - George Knapp & Colm Kelleher Interview (Original:1/10/2006 Rebroadcast:1/3/2007) (MP3/Windows Media Audio/Real Audio for Members)
- Binnall of America - Colm Kelleher Interview (January 21, 2006)(MP3)
- Jerry Pippin Show - George Knapp & Colm Kelleher Interview (Windows Media Audio)