Skinwalker Ranch, also known as Sherman Ranch, is a property located on approximately 480 acres (1.9 km2) southeast of Ballard, Utah that is allegedly the site of paranormal and UFO-related activities. Its name is taken from the skin-walker of Native American legend.
Claims about the ranch first appeared in the Salt Lake City, Utah Deseret News, and later in the alternative weekly Las Vegas Mercury as a series of articles by journalist George Knapp. These early stories detailed the claims that a family that had recently purchased and occupied the property only to experience an array of inexplicable and frightening events.
Colm Kelleher and co-author George Knapp subsequently authored a book in which they describe the ranch being acquired by the National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDSci) to study anecdotal sightings of UFOs, bigfoot-like creatures, crop circles, glowing orbs and poltergeist activity reported by its former owners.
The ranch, located in west Uintah County bordering the Ute Indian Reservation, was popularly dubbed the "UFO ranch" due to its ostensible 50-year history of odd events said to have taken place there. Knapp and Kelleher cite the 1974 book The Utah UFO Display: A Scientist's Report by Frank Salisbury and Joseph "Junior" Hicks, which details an earlier investigation into alleged UFO sightings in the Uintah County region, as partial confirmation of their account. 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 not injured when struck by bullets, and invisible objects emitting destructive magnetic fields. Among those involved were retired Army Colonel John B. Alexander who characterized the NIDSci effort as an attempt to get hard data using a "standard scientific approach". 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, but NIDSci founder Robert Bigelow's purchase of the ranch and investigation funding was reportedly the result of his being convinced by 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.
In 1996, skeptic James Randi awarded Bigelow a Pigasus Award for funding purchase of the property for what he termed a "useless study" of "a 'haunted ranch' in Utah".
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