Ranch Camera Equipment
Transition From The Bigelow Era: Ranch Cameras
When Brandon Fugal first acquired the ranch, the entire team was very skeptical toward the stories and claims regarding paranormal or unexplained activity on the ranch.
Erik Bard has consistently maintained throughout his tenure that he “is not here to believe, (he) is not here to disbelieve, (he) is here to observe.”
Fugal followed Erik’s advice, which was to focus primarily on observational science activities, with minimal disruption to the property. Erik believes that we should collect all the data possible before making any permanent or scarring changes to the ranch. Once something is changed, you can’t un-change it. Once it is changed, you lose the ability to capture any data of the “before” which can greatly affect the investigation. So the team watched and observed. Because we 1) weren’t confident that anything was even happening, and 2) we wanted to disturb as little as possible and wait to install more cost-effective surveillance equipment.
Robert Bigelow had installed cameras out on a power pole in the field just 300′ west of the command center. The cameras were still on the pole and included the coax and power wire that ran from the command center to the pole.
Camera wiring from the Bigelow era.
Early priority tasks involved replacing the outdated Bigelow cameras with new surveillance cameras. We would utilize the same wires and even install the cameras inside the same protective enclosures to make our upgrades as unnoticeable as possible.
While our first cameras were more utilitarian, they represented an extraordinary improvement over the previous cameras.
Our upgrades were minimally invasive and required no digging or substantial changes to the landscape, and allowed us to closely monitor and record activity 24/7. After recording for just a short time, we began to capture “events”. These events were impressive to watch on replay, but with limited resolution due to the type of camera we were using – making it challenging at times to identify and properly analyze events. At times it was extremely challenging to differentiate between the mundane and the remarkable, which meant we had to use high degrees of vigilance and discretion.
Two still unexplained events that were captured on the original camera system were streaks or balls of light that ran across the field of vision.
After capturing many impressive events, we recognized that the only way we would properly qualify events would be to upgrade the cameras. One major downfall of the initial cameras was that they used infrared light for night viewing. When we saw objects streak across the picture, we could not easily discern whether the object we were witnessing was casting its own light or merely reflecting the IR light from the camera. We needed cameras that would not broadcast IR. While this made night viewing much more “uneventful”, it gave us more meaningful data when we did observe and document events. When we identified a light in the camera, we needed to define whether it was emanating its own light, not reflecting light from us. The newly upgraded cameras would require new network lines and power cables.
Thomas used his Case 420 Skidsteer with a trenching attachment to dig two separate 300′ trenches from the power pole in the field to the Command Center. Navigating a fence that separated the field from the command center, Thomas commenced work from the pole and worked east toward the command center until he reached the point where the modern-day helipad begins. At this point, he turned around and started trenching at the fence that separated the command center from the field and worked east towards the trench he had dug coming from the pole. The ground that he had been trenching was hard and dry. Not an ounce of water. When he reached the point that would line up with what today would be the center of the helipad, his skid steer dropped into a complete mud hole, completely unseen from the surface. The skid steer sank until the mud was almost to the top of the wheels.
At this point in Thomas’s life, he had been working on skid steers for more than fifteen years, and never before had he gotten a skid steer stuck beyond his ability to work it out. The problem was that there was nothing firm to use as leverage with the trencher attachment that could help pull him out. As a matter of fact, when he positioned the trencher with the more than 48″ long blade on it perfectly vertical, and pushed it down into the mud hoping to find hard ground that could help ground the apparatus and elevate his front tires out of the mud, it sank easily out of sight. In pushing a rod down into the mud, there was not a bottom to be found in more than seven feet below the surface. Thomas eventually had to use a much bigger piece of equipment to get the skid steer free.
Due to many circumstances, it ended up taking Thomas more than two weeks to dig two trenches that would have otherwise taken a couple of hours at most to dig. When Thomas finally freed his skid steer from the mud and finished the trenches, he started laying conduit into the trenches to allow for wires and cables to be upgraded in the future without the need to dig new trenches.
Both trenches were between four and six inches wide and varied in depth between 18″ and 36″. Thomas needed some couplers and supplies so he left the ranch to run into town. He was gone for approximately two hours. When he returned, he found that about twenty feet of trench had been filled in on BOTH trenches close to the fence that separated the field from the command center. There were cows in the field, and there were cow tracks in the area, but not in the location of the trenches. These had been filled in to the top and leveled off. Although it could be speculated that the cows had disturbed the earth in the general vicinity, there was no apparent explanation for how the trenches had been filled in.
Because the cameras were being replaced, there were no operating cameras to capture how these trenches were filled in. As an experiment, Thomas redug the filled-in portion and placed the conduit into the trench. He then left the trench open to see if the cows were responsible and whether they would do it again. While the cows did come back up and congregate in the area around the open trenches, and while they did step into the trenches and knock dirt into the open trench, they did not come anywhere near filling in the trench and leveling it off. To this day it still remains a mystery as to “who” or “what” filled in the trenches. As far as the mud hole, Thomas will tell you it is just another example in a very long list of events that seem to lend credence to the saying “Bad things happen when you dig on Skinwalker Ranch!”