Some have called it a supernatural place. Others have deemed it “cursed.” Terry Sherman got so spooked by the happenings on his new cattle ranch that 18 months after moving his family of four to the property now known by many as “Skinwalker Ranch” in northeastern Utah, he sold the 512-acre parcel away.
He and his wife Gwen shared their chilling experiences with a local reporter in June 1996: They’d seen mysterious crop circles, the Shermans said, and UFOs, and the systematic and repeated mutilation of their cattle—in an oddly surgical and bloodless manner. Within three months of the story’s publication, Las Vegas real estate magnate and UFO enthusiast Robert Bigelow bought the property for $200,000.
Under the name the National Institute for Discovery Science, Bigelow set up round-the-clock surveillance of the ranch, hoping to get to the bottom of the paranormal claims. But while that surveillance yielded a book, Hunt for the Skinwalker: Science Confronts the Unexplained at a Remote Ranch in Utah, in which several of the researchers claimed to have seen paranormal activities, they were unable to capture any meaningful physical evidence supporting the Shermans’ incredible stories.
Had the Shermans been lying about what they saw? Or under the spell of a collective delusion? Without evidence, the stories they told are difficult to believe, but they’re hardly unique. The Uinta Basin of eastern Utah has been such a hotbed of paranormal sightings over the years that some extraterrestrial enthusiasts have deemed it “UFO Alley.” “You can’t throw a rock in Southern Utah without hitting somebody who’s been abducted,” local filmmaker Trent Harris told the Deseret News.
Indeed, according to Hunt for the Skinwalker, odd objects have been spotted overhead since the first European explorers arrived: In 1776, Franciscan missionary Silvestre Vélez de Escalante wrote about strange fireballs appearing over his campfire in El Rey. And before the Europeans, of course, indigenous peoples occupied the Uinta Basin. Today, “Skinwalker Ranch” abuts the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation of the Ute Tribe.
Were the Shermans seeing things that nearby Native Americans had taken note of centuries before?
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