33-minute reading time
The wide range of phenomena documented suggests that there might be important links between UFOs and the realm of high strangeness.
Government Funded Paranormal Study at Skinwalker Ranch
Alejandro Rojas. (2018). Government Funded Paranormal Study Revealed at Skinwalker Rach. Den of Geek.
[This article has been edited for brevity.]
Now Knapp’s reporting has revealed that the Pentagon’s secret UFO program The New York Times exposed in an article in December 2017 has its roots at Skinwalker Ranch. “The New York Times put out the story in December of last year, about AATIP [the Pentagon UFO study],” Knapp explained. “And they sort of conflated some of the facts. The 22 million dollars that they allege funded AATIP, actually went to AAWSAP, the program that basically funded [Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies], that funded the study of Skinwalker Ranch and funded a much broader discussion, much broader than just UFOs. What we’d call paranormal activity.”
“I hope to clarify that there wasn’t just one Pentagon program, there were two,” says Knapp.
“People have not understood that connection,” adds [documentary filmmaker Jeremy] Corbell. “This is the most studied paranormal hotspot in history, not only by private industry but also by the United States Government, by the Defense Intelligence Agency.”
“That connection and the ranch being the hub, the center, the beginning and the reason for that 22 million dollars has not been expressed to the public,” Corbell continued. “Our film expresses that.”
This picturesque ranch in northeastern Utah is the focal point of scientific research into the paranormal
I’m sitting on a white plastic chair in what seems like total darkness. Strapped to my chest and shoulders is an array of electronic gear-microphones, a video camera, a box that detects magnetic changes and a Geiger counter. Somewhere in the mix is a flashlight, the only device whose function I understand, and thus, the only device I cannot find.
In front of me, I can almost make out the sinister shapes of some truly spooky trees. Malevolent bugs are buzzing in and out of my eyes and ears, and it occurs to me that there must be a tavern open somewhere nearby, even in this remote corner of Utah. One hundred or more yards away, beyond a barbed-wire fence and a little creek, are my fellow paranormal rangers, equipped with their own video cameras, night-vision glasses and assorted scientific gear. They are supposed to be watching me to see if anything happens.
On this night, I am the bait. Bait for what, I wonder. The unspoken hope is my own inherent weirdness quotient might give me some sort of connection to the undeniably odd energy, or entity, that seems to have concentrated itself on this remote rural community, and, in particular, on this small ranch where I now sit, waiting for something to announce its presence.
For as long as anyone can remember, this part of northeastern Utah has been the site of simply unbelievable paranormal activity. UFOs, Sasquatch, cattle mutilations, psychic manifestations, creatures that aren’t found in any zoos or textbooks, poltergeist events. You name it, residents here have seen it.
Retired schoolteacher Junior Hicks is the area’s unofficial historian for all things weird. He’s catalogued 400 or so incidents, most of them involving UFO sightings, but says there have been thousands of other cases.
(Many of the lawmen have been witnesses themselves.) Hicks and members of his family have witnessed their own UFO events over the years.
“The UFO activity really started getting intense in the early ’50s,” Hicks says. “There were cases where the whole school and all the teachers saw these things hovering over the town in broad daylight. In the ’60s and ’70s, we probably had more UFO sightings than any place in the world.”
But run-of-the-mill UFO events don’t begin to describe the rich array of unusual phenomena in this area. The Ute Indian tribe has been here far longer than white settlers. Tribal leaders are reluctant to speak to outsiders, but their oral history is replete with examples of strange creatures and sightings. Indian lore refers to some of these beings as Skinwalkers. Other cultures call them shape-shifters, werewolves or Bigfoot.
NIDS RESEARCHERS HAVE INSTALLED SOPHISTICATED MONITORING EQUIPMENT AT THE RANCH IN HOPES OF DETECTING PARANORMAL ACTIVITY
There were deadbolts on both sides of the doors. Even the kitchen cabinets had bolts on them.
“The Utes take this very seriously,” Hicks says. “They think the Skinwalkers are powerful spirits that are here because of a curse that was put on them generations ago by the Navajos. And the center of the whole legend is this ranch. The Utes say the ranch is ‘the path of the Skinwalker.’ Tribe members are strictly forbidden from setting foot on the property. It’s been that way for a long time.”
The ranch in question is a 480-acre spread of rich, well-watered pasture and a few thick patches of tall cottonwoods. It’s divided into three sections, each section being a former homestead. Thick brush and a small river are on one side. A rocky, picturesque ridge is on the other side. Skinwalker Ridge is what the Utes call it, according to Hicks. A long dirt road is the only way in or out of the ranch.
When rancher Tom Gorman (not his real name) bought the place in 1994, it had been vacant for seven or eight years. Gorman, his wife and two kids were curious about the impressive array of bolts that covered the doors and windows of the main house. There were deadbolts on both sides of the doors. Even the kitchen cabinets had bolts on them. And at both ends of the house, iron stakes and heavy chains had been installed. Gorman guessed the previous tenants had positioned large guard dogs in the front and back of the home, but he had no idea why.
The Bulletproof Wolf
On the day the Gormans moved their furnishings onto the property, they had their first foreshadowing of the events that would follow. They spotted an extremely large wolf out in the pasture. The wolf cautiously made its way across the field, and, to the surprise of everyone, sidled up to the family, acting like it was a familiar pet. It had rained that day, and the family remembers the wolf smelled like a wet dog as they were petting it.
After a few minutes, the wolf strolled over to the corral and grabbed a calf by its snout, attempting to pull it through the corral bars. Gorman and his father began beating on the wolf’s back with sticks, but it wouldn’t release the calf. Gorman grabbed a .357 Magnum from his truck and shot the wolf at point-blank range.
The mystified rancher retrieved a hunting rifle and shot the wolf again, once more at close range. Gorman is not only an experienced marksman but a big-game hunter of considerable repute. Five slugs should have been enough to bring down an elk, let alone a wolf. The fifth shot caused a chunk of hair and flesh to fly off the wolf, but it still didn’t seem fazed. After a sixth shot, the wolf casually trotted across the field into a muddy thicket. Gorman and his father tracked the beast for about a mile, following its pawprints through the mud, but the tracks suddenly ended, as if the wolf had simply vanished into thin air.
Returning to the corral area, Gorman examined the chunk of wolf flesh and says it looked and smelled like rotten meat. He made inquiries among his neighbors, but no one seemed to know anything about any tame, over-sized wolves in the area. A few weeks later, Mrs. Gorman encountered a wolf that was so large, its back was parallel with the top of her window as it stood beside her car. The wolf was accompanied by a dog-like animal that she couldn’t identify.
Gorman got within 40 feet of the animal but says it literally vanished before his eyes. Poof. Gone.
Over the next two years, a menagerie of weird animals was reported by family members and neighbors. While driving into the ranch on a bright afternoon, Gorman and his wife saw something attacking one of their horses. They described it as “low to the ground, heavily muscled, weighing perhaps 200 pounds, with curly red hair and a bushy tail.” It somewhat resembled a muscular hyena and seemed to be clawing at their horse, almost playing with it. Gorman got within 40 feet of the animal but says it literally vanished before his eyes. Poof. Gone. They checked the horse and found numerous claw marks on its legs. (A few months later, the wife of a deputy sheriff reported seeing a similar muscular, reddish beast running across the property.)
Another visitor to the ranch had a more ominous encounter in the middle homestead, the same place where I was set out as bait. The visitor, along with Gorman and his son, say they saw a large blurry “something” moving through the trees. The visitor has been meditating when this thing showed up. It swiftly moved from the trees, across the pasture, covering 100 yards in seconds, and when it reached the man, it let out a ferocious roar, something akin to a large bear, a roar loud enough to be heard hundreds of yards away. But this was no bear. It was, according to the Gormans, nearly invisible, resembling the camouflaged being in the movie Predator. The visitor was so scared, he grabbed on to Gorman and wouldn’t let go. He left the ranch and has never returned.
The pastures would unexplainably light up at night like a football stadium.
Other creatures and beings were also seen, including exotic, multicolored birds that were certainly not native to the region and could not be identified. There were numerous close encounters with dark, nine-foot-tall beasts that resembled a Bigfoot or Sasquatch. (More on those incidents will follow.)
As if those visual experiences weren’t enough, the family claims its other senses were also challenged by assorted weird events. They often were overwhelmed by strong musk odors. The pastures would unexplainably light up at night like a football stadium. They claim to have seen shafts of light that seemingly emanated from the ground, They (and others) say they heard what sounded like heavy machinery operating under the earth. And they heard voices. Tom, his son and his nephew remember hearing a loud, disembodied conversation in some unintelligible language.
There were physical manifestations that aren’t easily explained. While checking on his herd in the third homestead, Gorman noticed that someone had dug up his pasture. Hundreds of pounds of soil had been scooped out of the ground. The edges of the hole resembled perfect, concentric circles, as if someone had dropped a gigantic cookie cutter on the pasture. Several smaller scoop marks were also found.
The Gormans also report phenomena similar to crop circles. One formation found in their pasture consisted of three circles of flattened grass. Each circle was approximately eight feet in diameter, and they were arranged in a triangular pattern, with each circle about 30 feet from the others. Keep in mind, there is only one road leading into the ranch. Anyone coming in or going out would almost certainly be noticed by the Gormans or their neighbors.
UFOs And Other Aerial Oddities
The orbs were about the size of a softball, made of glass and filled with bubbling blue liquids that seemed to rotate inside.
In the spring of 1995, the Gormans started seeing strange things in the sky. While out checking on their cattle, Gorman and his nephew spotted what they thought was a recreational vehicle parked on the property. They approached it, figuring the driver might be having mechanical trouble. As they got closer, the RV moved silently away from them. They moved closer, it moved further away. They climbed a fence to get a better look at it, and that’s when they knew this was no Winnebago. The craft rose above the treetops and slowly flew away, making no sound as it departed. It certainly wasn’t a helicopter. The witnesses had a clear view and say the object was shaped like a refrigerator, with a single light on its front and a red light on the back.
Before long, everyone in the family was seeing weird aerial objects. Mrs. Gorman says something that resembled a stealth fighter, but ringed with blinking disco lights, silently hovered about 20 feet above her vehicle before zipping off. Each family member had repeated sightings of a cloud that usually hovered just outside the property. The cloud was characterized as having “blinking Christmas tree lights” or “silent, mini-explosions” inside. Among the other aerial craft seen by the Gormans, their neighbors and other witnesses were classic flying-saucer objects, flying sombreros, shafts of light similar to fluorescent light bulbs and a cigar-shaped craft several football fields long.
By far the most common objects they witnessed were floating spheres of different sizes and colors. In 1995 and 1996, the Gormans and others reported 12 separate incidents of seeing large orange circles flying over the trees of the center homestead. Tom Gorman claims that holes occasionally opened up in the orange spheres and other smaller spheres would fly out. (A neighboring rancher told this reporter of his own encounters with what he called a flying orange basketball.)
By early 1996, the sightings of blue spheres at the ranch became almost commonplace. These orbs were said to be about the size of a softball, made of glass and filled with bubbling blue liquids that seemed to rotate inside. Mr. and Mrs. Gorman say that in April 1996, they watched one of the blue orbs repeatedly circle the head of one of their horses, The horse was illuminated by an intense blue light, and there was a sound like static electricity in the air, but this wasn’t ball lightning. The orb seemed to be intelligently controlled. When Gorman approached the horse with a flashlight, the orb darted off, maneuvering through tree branches with speed and dexterity.
It was the appearance of one blue orb in particular that finally convinced the Gormans to sell the ranch.
One evening in May 1996, Gorman was outside with three of his dogs when he noticed a blue orb darting around in the field near the ranch house. Gorman urged his dogs to go after the ball. The dogs chased and snapped at the orb, but it dodged and maneuvered enough to stay just beyond the reach of their snapping jaws. The ball led the dogs out across the pasture and into the thick brush that borders the field. Gorman says he heard the dogs make three terrible yelps, then they were silent. He called for them, but they didn’t respond.
The next morning, Gorman went to look for the dogs. What he found were three round spots of dried and brittle vegetation. In the middle of each circle was a black, greasy lump. Gorman surmised that his dogs had been incinerated by something. One thing for sure, the dogs were never seen again. The disappearance of their dogs prompted the Gormans to think about getting out.
Mutilations and Other Animal Mysteries
Tom Gorman wasn’t some country-bumpkin farmer trying to get by. He had college degrees and advanced training in animal husbandry, was considered an expert in artificial insemination and had plans for raising hybrid, high-end stock at the picturesque ranch. His herd, which ranged from 60-80 head, consisted of expensive, top-of-the-line heifers and four 2,000-pound show-class bulls.
From the day he moved his herd onto the ranch, though, his hopes – and his animals – seemed to be under assault. The balls of light that were seen so often on the property seemed to take special interest in the cattle and were often seen buzzing around the heads of the animals. Sometimes, the cattle would react violently, the herd splitting suddenly as if some invisible force was plowing through their middle. It soon got worse.
Although the Gormans kept close watch on their stock, something began exacting a terrible toll. One cow was found dead in a field. A strange, crisp hole had been cut in one of its eyes. There were no tracks or blood, and Gorman wondered what could do such a thing. He noticed a strong musk odor around the carcass, a smell he would come to know all too well.
Other cattle were carved up, as if with pinking shears.
Cattle mutilations have been reported throughout North America for several decades. In typical cases, the ears, eyes, udders and sex organs are removed with surgical precision. Gorman’s animals were subjected to all of the above.
As an experienced hunter and rancher, Gorman was more than familiar with the capabilities of natural predators. This wasn’t being done by coyotes or mountain lions. The butchery was simply too clean. And no blood was ever left at the scene of the attacks. His other animals also suffered. His favorite horse had its legs slashed, as if by sharp instruments or claws. (The musk odor was still in the air when he discovered the damaged horse.) His dogs seemed to develop paranoia. They stayed inside their doghouses for days at a time, too fearful to emerge for food. Six of the family’s cats vanished in one night.
A 1,200-pound cow leaves tracks in snow, Gorman told himself, so what happened to this one?
14 of Gorman’s prized animals were either sliced up or vanished.
In all, 14 of Gorman’s prized animals were either sliced up or vanished. In one instance, a cow was found mutilated just five minutes after Gorman’s son had checked on it. Something cut a hole, six inches wide and 18 inches deep, in the animal’s rectum. The cored-out section extended into the cow’s body cavity, yet there was no blood on the cow or on the snow-covered ground.
The loss of 14 expensive animals from an 80-head herd is extreme by any standards. (There were other losses as well, but from explainable causes.) It meant that Gorman was close to financial collapse. One April afternoon, Gorman and his wife took a quick drive to town for supplies. As they passed the corral that contained their four bulls, they commented to each other that they would really be in trouble if something should happen to one of the bulls.
It’s almost as if someone overheard the ranchers’ worries about their bulls, then decided to mess with them
When they returned to the ranch less than an hour later, all four of the bulls were gone. The Gormans began a frantic search for the missing behemoths but couldn’t find a trace. As a last resort, Gorman decided to peek into a metal trailer that is situated inside the corral. He thought it highly unlikely that the bulls would be inside because, from the corral, there is only one door into the trailer and it was secured with thick metal wire, wire that clearly was still in place.
Gorman was shocked to see that all four of his bulls were inside the trailer, squeezed like so many oversized sardines into the tiny enclosure, crammed in against the sides of the trailer and against each other. When he yelled to his wife that he had found them, the bulls seemingly woke up, as if from a dream state, and started kicking the hell out of the trailer and each other.
“There is simply no way that anyone could coax those four bulls into that trailer,” says Colm Kelleher, a microbiologist who would come to know the Gormans well. “It would be tough enough to get one of them into the trailer, but all four? Virtually impossible. The only door leading from the corral into the trailer was still securely fastened with wire. And there were cobwebs on the inside of the door, proving that it had not been opened. It’s almost as if someone overheard the ranchers’ worries about their bulls, then decided to mess with them.”
NIDS to the rescue
Kelleher didn’t realize it back in 1996, but the Gorman ranch was to soon become his home away from home. Kelleher is the deputy administrator of NIDS, the National Institute for Discovery Science, a Las Vegas-based research organization founded by local businessman Robert Bigelow. Bigelow’s long-standing interest in paranormal topics, including UFOs, animal mutilations and human consciousness, prompted him to assemble an impressive team of physicists, engineers, psychologists and other doctorate-level professionals for the purpose of investigating subjects that are largely shunned by mainstream science.
NIDS, the National Institute for Discovery Science, is a Las Vegas-based research organization founded by local businessman Robert Bigelow.
By the middle of 1996, the Gormans were ready to cash in their chips. Those who know Tom Gorman say he blamed himself for the weird string of events that had ruined his ranching operation. He didn’t want to give up but felt cursed and was ready to bail for the sake of his family. In an uncharacteristic moment, he told parts of his story to a news reporter. A respected journalist from Salt Lake City heard about it, came to the ranch and talked to the family. Pictures were taken, and a wire service picked up the story. That’s how Bob Bigelow first learned about the ranch.
Bigelow offered to buy the ranch outright with the idea of transforming it into an interactive paranormal laboratory.
Bigelow and his team flew to Utah and introduced themselves to the Gormans. NIDS staffers checked out the story, interviewed neighbors and evaluated the Gorman’s seemingly incredible tales. Bigelow offered to buy the ranch outright with the idea of transforming it into an interactive paranormal laboratory, an ongoing experiment that might shed some light on questions that have been viewed with scientific skepticism. Amazingly, he talked the Gormans into staying at the ranch as caretakers.
By that point, the family was a wreck. The UFOs, balls of light, cattle mutilations, animal disappearances, Bigfoot sightings and Skinwalker legends were bad enough, but there had also been an ongoing series of more personal events.
No one could sleep. When they did manage to grab a few hours, they were plagued by violent nightmares, often discovering later that different family members had experienced identical dreams. The two kids, honor students before arriving at the ranch, saw their grades plummet. Mrs. Gorman lost her job at a local bank because of her repeated absences and disturbing water-cooler tales. Hoping for safety in numbers, the Gormans slept each night on the floor of their front room.
The folks from NIDS offered moral, emotional and financial support to the Gormans. What’s more, they had a plan. The ranch presented what appeared to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to legitimately study a full menu of paranormal activities.
Some residents sarcastically wondered what the hucksters from Las Vegas really had in mind. A scam of some sort was one oft-mentioned possibility. UFO buffs whined that Bob Bigelow was a “shadowy” guy who may or may not have CIA connections and that he was out to somehow corner the market on E.T. They demanded that whatever happened at the ranch should be made immediately available for their evaluation. And paranormal debunkers predicted the NIDS team would come up empty-handed because unexplained events inevitably wither under careful scrutiny.
Different family members had experienced identical dreams.
As it turned out, all three groups were wrong. NIDS did seal off the ranch from outside observers but not for any monetary gain. Neither the CIA nor any other government agency had any input or access to the things that have occurred under the NIDS watch. And the phenomena itself did not wither or evaporate.
For the past six years, events at the ranch have been under constant scrutiny. Witnesses, including highly accomplished scientists and law enforcement personnel, have documented a mind-boggling array of unusual activity. But there has been a near-total blackout on the release of any information about the site.
By agreement with Bigelow, this reporter was granted the first outside access to the ranch and to the scientists and ex-lawmen who’ve been studying it. Interviews were conducted with ranch personnel, as well as with community members who had reported unusual events. And several nights were spent out on the ranch itself, watching for odd lights or other manifestations.
That is small comfort to me as I sit in the darkness on my little plastic chair, waiting for something to happen. The mind certainly can play tricks in such an environment, but could so many witnesses be completely wrong?
Part II of the Article
Note: The activities seem most concentrated on a 480-acre cattle ranch owned by the family of Tom Gorman. In 1996, the ranch was purchased by Las Vegas businessman Robert Bigelow, who arranged for an intense, ongoing scientific study of events at the ranch. By agreement with Bigelow, and at the request of many of the witnesses, a few names have been changed or omitted to protect those who don’t want to be hassled by media outlets or UFO enthusiasts.
LAS VEGAS BUSINESSMAN SETS UP SHOP AT UTAH RANCH TO STUDY PARANORMAL ACTIVITIES
It began as a dull white light, appearing out of nowhere in the darkness of the middle homestead of the Gorman ranch. Tom Gorman saw it. So did a researcher named Chad Deetken. It was nearly 2 a.m. on Aug. 28, 1997. Gorman and Deetken were out in the pasture as part of an ongoing effort to document unusual activity on the property.
Both men watched intently as the light grew brighter. It was as if someone had opened a window or doorway.
Deetken had the presence of mind to snap a few photos of the event, but would later learn that his film had recorded little of what the two men had witnessed.
The Gormans themselves were bedeviled, almost daily, by odd little household incidents that, separately, wouldn’t amount to much, but when considered together, were hard to dismiss. Windows and doors in their home would rip open or slam shut, seemingly on their own. Frequently, when Mrs. Gorman would take a shower, she’d emerge from the tub to find that her towel and personal items had been removed from inside the locked bathroom. On one occasion, she returned from town with a large haul of groceries and other supplies. She carefully put the provisions away in various cabinets, walked into another room for a few minutes, and returned to find all the supplies back out on the kitchen table.
Clothing, tools and appliances seemed to develop lives of their own. But this wasn’t the equivalent of socks disappearing in the laundry. For example,
Tools often disappeared, then reappeared on the range. In one instance, a heavy post hole digger vanished. It was finally discovered, days later, high up in the branches of a cottonwood tree, as if placed there by a crane. The uneasy feeling grew among family members that they were constantly being watched, but they had no idea who, or what, was doing the watching.
ENTER ROBERT BIGELOW AND NIDS
Las Vegas businessman Robert Bigelow first heard about the Gorman ranch in the summer of 1996. A small newspaper article about mysterious events at the property prompted Bigelow and his team to fly to Utah. Bigelow bought the ranch and convinced Tom Gorman to stay on as caretaker, against the wishes of his family.
Bigelow is the founder of NIDS, the National Institute for Discovery Science, a Las Vegas research organization dedicated to the study of unexplained phenomena. NIDS staff members include highly trained and educated scientists, engineers and former law enforcement personnel with solid credentials, degrees and experience. Although the organization investigates seemingly bizarre events, it has no preconceived ideas about the true nature of the subject matter and is primarily interested in getting to the truth, wherever that truth leads. (This observation is a personal one, based on more than six years of interaction with the NIDS organization.)
NIDS staffers emphasize that they are constantly drilled by Bigelow and by his Science Advisory Board to rigidly adhere to the scientific method. (“The Science Board really holds our feet to the fire,” one staff member confides.) Because the subject matter itself is so controversial in science circles, NIDS realizes that any deviation from the scientific method would mean a loss of credibility. If they were deemed a crackpot organization, their findings, no matter how profound or well-documented, would be dismissed out of hand.
The Gorman ranch presented a unique opportunity to study a rich tapestry of strange stuff.
NIDS staffers knew they had to be careful but also knew they couldn’t merely dismiss the stories told by locals.
“We had no preconceived ideas about what was going on, but we decided to use an ‘open filter’ approach to gathering information,” says one senior NIDS staffer. “We had a lot of reservations about the legends of skinwalkers, Bigfoot sightings, all the things the family claimed to have seen, but we decided to collect all the data we could get, without dismissing it outright, and figured we could evaluate it all later.”
The NIDS team set up shop. They installed a command post, positioned video and other monitoring equipment around the ranch, built new fencing around the perimeter of the property to better control access to the site, constructed observation posts in the pastures and staffed the property with trained observers. The effort constitutes the most intense and thorough surveillance of a UFO hot spot ever undertaken.
UFO researchers were incensed at being excluded from the study. They floated rumors that Bigelow was working for the CIA, that he and NIDS were already in contact with E.T., and that whatever information was gleaned from the ranch probably would be locked away in dark vaults under the Pentagon. The constant criticism prompted the publicity-shy Bigelow to grant a rare interview. He told a Utah newspaper that NIDS was not communicating with either extraterrestrials or lizard people. He appealed, perhaps in vain, for a reasonable amount of time, free from outside interference, so a legitimate study might be undertaken.
“We know so little in terms of what the overall scope of the phenomena are that it’s just embarrassing to try and make some conclusions at this point,” Bigelow said. He admitted that the activity at the ranch seemed to be “selective in how it exposes itself and to whom,” suggesting that a tailgate-party atmosphere where people sit around outside the ranch, barbecuing hot dogs while awaiting flying saucers, would not be conducive to a scientific study. Not surprisingly, this plea for sanity fell on deaf ears among the UFO faithful. They were so busy expressing their outrage over being barred from private property that they failed to grasp the major clue dropped by Bigelow during his interview.
A PRE-COGNITIVE INTELLIGENCE
A confidential report prepared for NIDS board members and obtained by this reporter documents dozens of encounters involving NIDS staffers, the Gormans and other witnesses. After several months of round-the-clock surveillance, a mind-boggling pattern began to emerge. The phenomena, whatever they represent, seemed capable of anticipating the moves of the scientists. If they placed extra cameras and personnel in the southern field, the activity would pop up in the northern pasture. If they concentrated their observations in the center homestead, the activity might move to the ridge overlooking the ranch.
Skeptics might suggest that such an explanation for a lack of photographic evidence sounds a little too convenient
Skeptics might suggest that such an explanation for a lack of photographic evidence sounds a little too convenient. But something happened on July 19, 1998, that sheds further light on the challenge faced by the research team. Soon after arriving at the ranch, NIDS had installed three telephone poles in one of the pastures. Atop each pole was a sophisticated package of censoring equipment, including multiple video cameras. The cameras had a full view of that section of the ranch and were connected to video recorders back in the command post. At exactly 8:30 p.m., the three cameras on the westernmost telephone pole were suddenly disabled. When NIDS staffers went to check out the problem, they saw that something had shredded their electronic equipment. Wires had been ripped out of the cameras with considerable force. Plastic brackets were snapped in two. Thick layers of duct tape that had been used to secure the equipment had been ripped away. A foot-long piece of TV cable was missing. Analysis of the remaining cable showed it had been slashed with a knife.
Team members excitedly returned to the command center, knowing that the telephone pole that had been assaulted was in full view of cameras positioned atop the second pole, located about 200 feet away. The assumption was that, whatever had ripped the guts out of the first camera would be clearly visible on video recorded by the second. But when they rolled the tape back, they saw nothing. At the exact moment the first camera package was being vandalized, nothing visible could be seen anywhere near the second telephone pole. This incident set a pattern for what was to follow.
“I came up with a term for it,” says Col. John Alexander, a retired Army intelligence officer who still works on classified projects with Los Alamos National Laboratory and remains an adviser to NATO organizations. “I called it a pre-cognitive sentient intelligence. It certainly seemed to be intelligent, and it seemed to know what we were going to do even before we did it.”
Alexander is a former adviser to NIDS who made the trip to the ranch to see what was going on.
Another NIDS staffer arrived at a similar conclusion. He has a doctorate in physics, a long list of peer-reviewed papers about cutting-edge scientific concepts, and a lengthy employment history with prominent think tanks and classified military programs. He asked that his name not be used in the belief that he would never again be hired for sensitive scientific work if his involvement with the ranch were made public.
“It’s a very messy affair. Nothing is clear cut. It isn’t as simple as saying that E.T.s or flying saucers are doing it,” the scientist said.
ICE AND DINOSAURS
As if to punctuate the point, the phenomena at the ranch seemed to constantly evolve. One of the most recent incidents occurred on a cold morning in February. The caretaker for the property was patrolling the grounds early in the morning. As he walked past a watering hole, he noticed an odd circular impression in the thin ice that had formed overnight. Something had carved a perfect circle in the ice. The circle was just under six feet in diameter and seemed oddly reminiscent of the crop formations seen in English wheat fields.
The phenomena at the ranch seemed to constantly evolve.
The cuts extended only a quarter-inch into the ice and the ice itself was perhaps another quarter-inch thick. The question arises, how could this have been done? Someone standing on the muddy bank would have left footprints. The only prints were cattle tracks. The ice itself was so thin that it could support almost no weight and certainly would have cracked and broken if someone stood on it. Could someone have suspended themselves above the ice patch and then somehow carved a perfect circle? How, and more importantly, why? NIDS staffers, following the scientific method, collected and analyzed ice shavings from the spot, took readings for magnetic fields and EM radiation, checked for tracks throughout the area but found no clues. There is no natural explanation for such a subtle event, and it has never been reported again.
NIDS employees compiled a confidential report containing information about all the assorted incidents on the ranch. Reading this report will make the hair stand up on your neck. To date,
There were several instances involving some sort of invisible force moving through the ranch and through the animals. One witness reported a path of displaced water in the canal, as if a large unseen animal was briskly moving through the water. There were distinct splashing noises, and there was a foul pungent odor that filled the air but nothing could be seen. A neighboring rancher reported the same phenomena two months later. The Gormans say there were several instances where something invisible moved through their cattle, splitting the herd. Their neighbor reported the same thing.
They could make out a huge set of yellowish, reptilian eyes. The head of this animal had to be three feet wide.
Of all the strange incidents at the ranch, this one may take the prize. It occurred on the night of March 12, 1997. Barking dogs alerted the team to something lurking in a tree near the ranch house. Tom Gorman grabbed a hunting rifle and took off in his truck toward the tree. Two NIDS staffers followed in another vehicle. Up in the tree branches, they could make out a huge set of yellowish, reptilian eyes. The head of this animal had to be three feet wide, they guessed. At the bottom of the tree was something else. Gorman described it as huge and hairy, with massively muscled front legs and a doglike head.
Gorman, who is a crack shot, fired at both figures from a distance of 40 yards. The creature on the ground seemed to vanish. The thing in the tree apparently fell to the ground because Gorman heard it as it landed heavily in the patches of snow below. All three men ran through the pasture and scrub brush, chasing what they thought was a wounded animal, but they never found the animal and saw no blood either. A professional tracker was brought in the next day to scour the area. Nothing.
But there was a physical clue left behind. At the bottom of the tree, they found and photographed a weird footprint, or rather, claw print. The print left in the snow was from something large. It had three digits with what they guessed were sharp claws on the end. Later analysis and comparison of the print led them to find a chilling similarity – the print from the ranch closely resembled that of a velociraptor, an extinct dinosaur made famous in the Jurassic Park films. (For the record, no one at NIDS is saying he shot a velociraptor. They don’t know what it was.)
MORE CATTLE DEATHS
Two days before the above incident, another animal was found mutilated on the ranch, and it is the only case from the ranch that NIDS has publicly confirmed before this article. Gorman and his wife spent a bright Sunday morning tagging the ears of newborn calves. They put a tag on the ear of a calf born near the ranch house, then wandered out into the pasture for a period of 45 minutes. In that interim period, with the Gormans only 200 yards away in the pasture, the calf was completely stripped of flesh. The Gormans were alerted by a wail from the mother of the calf. The calf’s entrails had been placed, almost ritualistically, on the ground, but all of its flesh was simply gone, leaving only bone and hide behind. There was no blood on the ground or on the animal.
A NIDS team was at the ranch and quickly scoured the area for evidence.
(A second calf disappeared that same morning after being tagged and was never found. In all, 12 cattle have met a similar end since NIDS has been on the ranch. A full report on the calf incident can be found on the NIDS website.)
SO, WHAT’S GOING ON?
“I thought that if we threw enough personnel and equipment at this one, pull out all the stops, adhere to the scientific method, that we would probably get answers.”
Capt. Keith Wolverton spent more than 20 years as an investigator with the Cascade County Sheriff’s Department in Great Falls, Mont. In the mid-’70s, that area experienced a similar wave of UFO sightings and cattle mutilations, as well as Bigfoot sightings, and Wolverton investigated them all.
“I asked my boss back then to give me six weeks to solve the mystery,” Wolverton says. “It’s 30 years later and I’m still left with a lot of questions but no answers.”
Wolverton wrote a book about his Montana experiences. He came to the ranch to share his expertise with NIDS, and while there are similarities between the things that happened near Great Falls and at the Utah ranch, Wolverton says he’s never heard of any place with such a concentration of weird activity as the Gorman ranch. Microbiologist Colm Kelleher has reached a similar conclusion.
“I thought that if we threw enough personnel and equipment at this one, pull out all the stops, adhere to the scientific method, that we would probably get answers,” Kelleher says. “We have all of these strange cases, close to 100, many of them well-documented, but if you try to call that scientific evidence of anything, you’d be laughed at.”
The main reason NIDS has been unwilling to go public with information about the ranch is there isn’t much that can be said. For a scientific organization to merely toss out a lot of scary stories would be counterproductive, especially if it resulted in hordes of UFO nuts flooding the property and interfering with whatever goes on there. Make no mistake, the activity at the ranch certainly seems to have an interactive component. It responds to people, events and disturbances. In many instances, it seems capable of anticipating things that were about to happen.
What could possibly explain all that has happened at the ranch? Natural predators, rustlers or pranksters might conceivably be responsible for some of the events, but certainly not all of them. NIDS staffers considered the possibility that Indian shaman or black magic practitioners might have been carrying out some sort of ritualist campaign at the ranch. They note that the Ute people consider the ranch to be an unholy place, a forbidden place, but that explanation falls far short on many levels.
Hardcore UFO believers have proposed an E.T. connection to events at the ranch, but NIDS staffers say there isn’t an iota of evidence to prove such a hypothesis. The possibility exists that unknown military units might be capable of producing nearly all of the events that have been reported in the area, perhaps as an experiment in psychological warfare. (Tom Gorman was convinced of this for a long time, but came to realize the theory was more than a stretch. Someone, somewhere would have seen these military men operating in such a rural area.) That doesn’t leave much.
The concept of wormholes is no longer considered to be the stuff of science fiction. New York physicist and author Michio Kaku theorizes that there are 11 dimensions in our universe, although humans have only identified four. Might a wormhole resemble the portal of light that was seen on the ranch? And if such portals do exist, could they allow beings on the other side to travel into our world? As wacky as it all sounds, leading scientists believe that wormholes and alternate dimensions are perfectly consistent with known laws of physics. If so, then it isn’t much of a leap to suggest that UFOs, aliens, Bigfoot beings or other creatures, even poltergeists or spirits, could come and go and never be detected by puzzled, mystified humans.
“Aliens may be here now,” says Kaku, “here in another dimension, a millimeter away from our own world.” Admittedly, it all sounds farfetched. But if anyone has a better explanation, let’s hear it.