Skinwalker Ranch Is A Grift. There, I Said It.
Skinwalker Ranch is touted as one of the most active paranormal hotspots in the world. It’s also one of the most lucrative. Let’s talk about what’s really happening (and not happening) at Skinwalker Ranch.
Growing up, my grandparents had a ranch. They raised and sold cattle, harvested oats and hay, collected farm dogs by the dozen. It wasn’t anything fancy but it was a pretty cool operation.
They weren’t alone either, there are over 2 million farms and ranches across the United States as of 2019 anyway. Most of them you’ve never heard of.
Some are more well known for being historic or just for being huge like the XIT Ranch and the King Ranch here in Texas.
And then of course there’s ranches like Skywalker Ranch, home of Lucasfilm, and Southfork Ranch, home of the Ewing family from the show Dallas.
And then there’s Skinwalker Ranch, home to… well, according to legend, scary humanoid creatures, mutilated livestock, ghosts, giant unkillable wolves, electronic disturbances, and UFOs.
It’s almost like an amusement park of the paranormal. Or about 15 X-Files episodes in one spot.
But if we’re being pedantic, it’s not famous because of what’s happening there. If you’ve heard of Skinwalker Ranch, it’s because at one point or another, you’ve run into the endless barrage of media about this place.
Books, movies, feature documentaries, podcasts, several episodes of popular TV shows, and starting last year, a reality show that’s now finished its second season on the Ancient Aliens channel. Sorry! The History Channel. I keep forgetting they still call themselves that.
And that show is super popular, its finale ranked number one for that time slot.
Without a doubt, Skinwalker Ranch is a valuable commodity at this point. Regardless of what’s actually happening there, it is pulling in tens of millions of dollars.
And of course, I’ve received tens of millions of requests for a video it.
Because my UAP video was… Universally beloved.
But you know what, it is an interesting story. And if nothing else this has become a pop culture phenomenon and I kinda want to know how we got here. So how did we get here?
All good mysterious places have a mysterious backstory. It’s kinda like architecture, you need a good foundation you can build the spooky on top of.
And Skinwalker Ranch is a place that seems ready-made for the spooky.
Skinwalker Ranch is located in northeast Utah in the Uinta Basin.
It’s close to Ballard, Utah, and consists of 2.1 square kilometers (512 acres), though some sites list it as 1.9 square kilometers (480 acres) in size.
It was owned by the Myers family from the early 1930s to 1994.
They sold it to cattle ranchers named the Sherman family, and in fact the property is sometimes still referred to as Sherman Ranch.
The Shermans only lived there for two years before selling it to billionaire businessman and aerospace executive Robert Bigelow. Bigelow is famously a believer in UFO phenomena and wanted to study the area after hearing about some of the Sherman’s experiences on the property.
Bigelow owned the property for twenty years, during which time the land was investigated by his group, the National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS).
But in 2016, Bigelow sold the property for $4.5 million to a shell company called Adamantium Real Estate, who immediately shut down all roads to the ranch, lined the property with barbed wire and installed security cameras around the perimeter.
But maybe the most telling clue about what their intentions were with this ranch was when they trademarked the name, Skinwalker Ranch, in 2018.
Within a year a feature documentary about Skinwalker Ranch was released and production had begun on the now wildly popular – and lucrative – History Channel series.
Could I sound any more cynical right now?
All right, now would be a good time to disclose that I am severely biased on this subject.
I’ve been pretty open about my disdain for reality shows and the manipulation of reality that they engage in, I talked in a very early video about Duck Dynasty and how the guys in that show were non-bearded middle-class dudes before they got cast in this show, and then got rich selling a bunch of merchandise.
That’s the grift. And it’s happened with a lot of reality shows. So yeah, the fact that this has a reality show around it immediately sets those alarm bells off for me.
But… Is that true here? Is the guy behind Adamantium Holdings running a grift? Well let’s look at the guy behind it.
His name is Brandon Fugal, and he’s a real estate mogul and VC investor out of Utah.
Fugal had a religious upbringing in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is a fancy way of saying he grew up Mormon, and according to interviews with him, this is what spurred his interest in the paranormal.
The idea that he could have proof that there’s more out there in reality and in the universe than what we can see, this would be the ultimate validation of his faith.
But he’s an interesting guy, he owns a huge movie memorabilia collection, is passionate about 80s music, and collects supercars like Lamborghinis and Porsches.
He has also joined an investment group that plans to resurrect the wooly mammoth.
Fugal told Utah Business in 2020 that he purchased the ranch as a skeptic, believing that there would be natural explanations for all the strange activity.
But, “What we are witnessing could be evidence that we live in a multi-dimensional universe,” he said. “That we are not alone. That we may be interacting with other entities, other intelligence.”
Fugal hopes that discoveries on the ranch prove that we humans are part of a greater plan, that we’re not just a random event and that there is meaning to our lives and existence.
And you know what, honestly, if he’s sincere about that, and he seems to be… Hell, I’m down for that, that sounds great.
The question becomes, how does making a lucrative reality show out of this further that effort? Is it just because it generates interest that might bring in more researchers? Do they plan to reinvest the money being made on it back into the research? Is it a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too kind of thing?
I want to note that we did reach out to Mr. Fugal, who responded at first but when we asked him that specific question, we didn’t get an answer. He may have gotten busy; I’m sure he’s a busy guy, don’t want to make wild accusations, I’m just letting you know we did try to cover our bases and get his side of the story.
All right, so let’s talk about the Ranch itself, what’s the deal with this place?
The Uinta Basin is the geological remains of the prehistoric Uinta Lake that formed in the late Tertiary period about two million years ago.
The basin is surrounded by the Uinta and Wasatch mountains and the Roan and Book cliffs.
It is up to 10,000 feet above sea level and covers more than 9,000 square miles.
Prehistoric sites show that it was inhabited thousands of years ago by the Archaic and Fremont peoples, and then more recently by the Ute tribe.
Fathers Dominguez and Escalante were the first Europeans in the area when they traveled through in 1776.
Brigham Young sent out a small party to explore the basin in 1861 as a possible place to settle, but the party reported that the area was valueless.
Abraham Lincoln created the Uintah Indian Reservation that same year, and gilsonite, which is a kind of asphalt was discovered in the basin around 1888.
The land contains oil, too. It has more than 8,000 gas wells and 2,000 oil wells, with mineral rights being the primary income source for the Uintah and Ouray (you-ray) Indian Reservation.
Then there’s fracking, which has been occurring there since the 1960s. And this comes with a few issues.
A Rolling Stone article in 2015 concluded that the ground air in the basin was “fraught with carcinogenic gases like benzene, rogue emissions from oil and gas drilling.”
The high levels of volatile organic compounds has been floated as an explanation for the number of livestock that get sick and die in the area.
Even Fugal is cautious about the emissions, saying
“I have four kids but they have never been to the ranch,” he told Utah Business. “The danger is real and we have to approach the ranch with a degree of reverence and caution.”
A lot of the lore around Skinwalker Ranch comes from the indigenous tribes that inhabited the area for hundreds of years.
The Uintah and Ouray Reservation stretches across three counties in the basin. It’s the second-largest Native American reservation in the U.S., covering 4.5 million acres.
Anthropologists say the Utes migrated to the northern Colorado Plateau between 1,000 and 2,000 years ago.
The Utes are talented artists, specifically known for their religious and ceremonial beadwork and leatherwork.
In their religion, they trace their origin to a half-man, half-wolf god named Sinauf (sin-oy-uff). They also believe that all the physical elements and features in the world are spiritually alive.
Their oral history includes sightings of strange creatures in the basin, and they take the area very seriously.
According to UFO investigator Junior Hicks in an interview with George Knapp in 2002,
“They think the Skinwalkers are powerful spirits that are here because of a curse that was put on them generations ago by the Navajos,” “The Utes say the ranch is ‘the path of the skinwalker.’”
So what is a skinwalker exactly? Well, according to lore, skinwalkers are malevolent witches who can transform into a wolf, bear, coyote, bird, or other animals.
They’re known to the Navajo as Yee Naaldlooshii (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yWRGakALps), which translates to “with it, he goes on all fours.”
Legend says that skinwalkers are often shamans who have crossed over to the dark side by participating in forbidden rituals and ceremonies that summon evil forces.
So I guess if shamans were the Jedi, Skinwalkers are the Sith.
Belief in skinwalkers is still pretty strong among the tribes in the area, in fact, most won’t talk about them because it’s thought that saying their name kind-of invokes them. They’re kind-of he whose name shall not be spoken.
With that history and legend behind it, the list of unexplained phenomena that has been reported at the ranch is quite extensive, including…
– Cattle mutilations
– Sightings of strange, humanoid figures
– Light beams hitting the basin
– Poltergeist phenomena
– The appearance of portals
– Balls of light
– Radiation blasts
– Electronic malfunctions
While claims of UFO sightings in the Uinta Basin go back to the 1950s, most of what we think of as the Skinwalker Ranch phenomena started when the Shermans took it over in 1994.
For example, the Shermans found a dead cow in a field after one of the UFO sightings on the ranch.
They told the Deseret News in 1996 that there was “a peculiar hole in the center of its left eyeball but was otherwise untouched with no trace of blood.”
There were no traces of footprints, predators, or tire tracks. A chemical-like odor was also present.
Another dead cow with a similar hole in its left eye was found later. There was also a 6-inch hole about an inch deep carved out of the cow’s rectum, along with the same chemical smell.
Anyway, cows began disappearing, more were found mutilated, crop circles were discovered, metallic sounds were heard at night, strange creatures were consistently seen, and orbs darted around the property.
For example, Terry Sherman saw a blue orb moving across a field. His dogs chased after it into a thick grove.
He heard the dogs yelp and then silence. He went back in the morning to look for the dogs and saw three spots of dried grass. A greasy, black lump was in the middle of each spot, looking like the dogs had been incinerated.
If you’re interested in reading more about their experiences, I’ll put some links down below.
So as a guy with two dogs, I think if something like that happened I would want to get the hell out of there, and it seems that was true for the Shermans too. Which is why after only 2 years on the property, they sold it to Bigelow.
Which makes you wonder, if the place was so freaky that the Shermans yeeted out of there after only 2 years, what did the Myers family see? They owned the property for 60 years.
And the answer to that question is where things get really weird because what they saw… Was nothing.
Kenneth John Myers and his wife Edith sold the land to the Shermans and they’re not with us anymore but Kenneth’s brother, Garth Myers, claimed that they never saw anything paranormal there.
He spoke to Frank B. Salisbury, PhD, who published a book called The Utah UFO Display, and said, “There was nothing, unequivocally, absolutely nothing that went on while [Edith] and my brother lived there”
And he claims that after the Shermans sold the ranch, Bigelow called Garth and asked him why he never told anyone about the UFOs. And according to the book, he responded by saying, “I told him they [the UFOs] didn’t get there until [the Shermans] got there.”
So look, the skeptic in me sees a ranch with the Myers family living there for 60 years, nothing happening, just an old family ranch, and then the Shermans come in and suddenly there’s all these random stories of paranormal events going around, they get tied in to ancient native lore, they use this to get an eccentric billionaire to buy the property, making a huge profit, and later Adamantium comes along and does the same thing, just generations of people profiting off of this story.
But… the wrench in that theory is that the Shermans only sold the property for $200,000. It’s actually less than they paid for it, they took a loss on this.
They moved away and have refused to talk to anyone about their time there. Possibly because of a non-disclosure agreement they signed with Bigelow.
And there’s nothing really from their past that would indicate that they would do something like this.
Terry Sherman was a well-respected breeder of top-quality and high-priced cattle in New Mexico before buying the ranch in Utah. He never lost more than one percent of his animals per year until he moved.
This loss of cattle hit the family’s finances pretty hard. And whatever else was happening caused them all psychological stress.
Now if you wanted to double down on the cynicism you could argue that Terry Sherman wasn’t doing quite as well breeding cattle as he had been and his reputation and pride were taking a hit so he conjured up these stories as a way to sort-of save face.
But it is weird that the people who set this whole scheme into motion according to the “grift theory” are the people who profited the least from it.
One more thing worth mentioning is the issue of digging on the ranch.
This is something they talk about in the series, they have an aversion to digging because apparently, digging disturbs the entities on the property, causing all sorts of physical phenomena to occur.
But could the no-digging suggestion stem from something more mundane?
Remember that the Uinta Basin is loaded with fossil fuels like gas and oil and asphalt, well according to Garth Myers, the real estate contract stipulated that the previous owners retained oil rights on the property.
In other words, if someone were to dig around and find a bubblin’ crude, that would belong to the previous owners. So… They don’t want you doing that.
Again, that’s Garth Myers’ theory, another one has to do with the high level of VOCs in the area I mentioned earlier.
It’s possible that digging may release them and may even be the cause of some of the claimed medical issues seen on the show.
Yet another reason one might not want to dig is because there may be radiation in the soil from the nuclear weapons tests in Nevada between 1951 and 1962.
It’s thought that fallout from those blasts landed in Utah, specifically in that area.
So yeah, digging might stir up some ancient spirits… or radioactive dirt. Neither of which sound like a fun time.
So we’ve talked about the Myers’, we’ve talked about the Shermans, and the current owner, now let’s talk about the one, the only, Robert Bigelow, paranormal gigolo.
For the record, I like Robert Bigelow, I think he’s got some cool ideas. A little kooky, but that’s fine.
So Bigelow bought the ranch in 1994 and then set up the National Institute for Discovery Science in 1995, specifically to research this place.
And they did so for 20 years. So what did they find?
One thing they experienced was an ice circle that mysteriously appeared in 2002.
The circle measured five feet nine inches in diameter and was found in an irrigation canal. The circle was 1/4-inch deep.
Shavings around the circle indicated that it had been etched into the ice. There was no evidence of melted ice.
There were no markings, tracks, or prints in or around the circle, either. The case went unsolved.
And there were some other things they ran across like weird bits of metal and electronic disturbances and stuff, I’ll put a link in the description to an archive of their findings, as well as things they investigated outside Skinwalker Ranch.
But I actually kinda lied just a second ago when I said they investigated for 20 years. Technically that’s not true.
NIDS was actually disbanded in 2004. But it was replaced with another group called the Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies, which was an even more secretive operation.
And nobody really knew what they had going on until this year.
Remember back in the Spring of this year when all the UFO stuff came out about the secret government program investigating aliens and whatnot?
That program was AATIP, the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program, and a smaller part of that story if you followed it much was that Robert Bigelow was working with them in some way.
Which wasn’t a surprise to me, he’s super into that stuff, but this was what he was doing for that program, he was investigating Skinwalker Ranch.
Also Harry Reid, the senator who pushed to fund the program, he’s a friend of Robert Bigelow.
(Maybe put in a caption on screen AATIP was budgeted at $22 million and lasted from 2004-2012)
Bigelow’s advanced space studies operation lost its funding in 2012 when the Defense Department shut down AATIP.
So Bigelow’s researchers had government funding for 8 years to study Skinwalker Ranch, and it would be great to know what they found… But it’s classified.
And after that research kinda stalled. He just kinda owned the land for a few years. Until, it seems, somebody got an idea for a TV show.
So look, here are the prevailing theories around Skinwalker Ranch:
– A shaman is trapped in an alternative timeline and is causing havoc.
– The ranch is a portal for interdimensional travel for beings and UFOs to pass through into our world.
– The U.S government made contacts with extraterrestrials, but they’re trying to cover it up.
– It’s a spot for extraterrestrials to study us and our reactions to their presence.
– It’s a scam perpetrated by the Shermans, Bigelow, and Fugal to make money.
I mean… Uh… Scam is a big word.
Bigelow has been researching this kind of stuff for a long time, he’s legitimately interested in this kind of thing, and talks about it all the time. He’s risked his career publicly talking about it.
And it’s very possible Brandon Fugal is exactly the same. He may legitimately want to research this stuff, but research costs money, and he wants it to be well-funded.
So, we’ll make a reality show out of it. It’s compelling stuff, people would want to watch it. He’s not wrong about that.
Maybe this is one of those cases where the scammy thing to do and the smart thing to do are the same thing.
Hell, maybe he was inspired by the Mars One program.
Mars One was a privately funded program to take people to Mars and the way they were going to pay for it was by making it into a reality show.
The idea was people would do research and establish the Mars base and do all the science stuff but they’d make a reality show at the same time.
But being a businessman, I’m sure he was able to run the numbers and see that this would have a better chance of success than Mars One. Despite what you may have heard, it is easier to get to Utah than it is to get to Mars.
But yeah, we’ll make a TV show and do all the stuff you’ve gotta do on a reality show to keep people watching, but we’ll do some real research while we’re at it. And who knows, maybe we find something, that would be huge!
I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt here. Maybe that’s exactly what Fugal is doing. I’m still not sure if it’s the best way to go, but at least his intentions are pure.
I guess we’ll just have to see where all the money goes.
But you know what, it’s well done. They did a great job with it. It’s fun.
And I mean, reality shows aren’t my thing, but a lot of other people enjoy them. In fact, I’m sure this show was a nice escape for a lot of people over the last couple of years. When we all kinda needed one.
Man, I can’t believe I’m defending the Skinwalker Ranch reality show. I really didn’t think I’d land here. Shhhhhhhhit.
Honestly, I came into this video really ready to throw down, this was going to EXPOSE THE FRAUD. And here I am. Defending it.
Ultimately, they’re making entertainment. And on the off chance there is something really funky going on there, it increases the odds of finding it.
So I don’t know what do you think? Good thing? Bad thing? Dumb? Any favorite scenes from the show? Discuss your favorite theories in the comments.