#AtoZ 1968 – “S” is for Skull Valley (Dugway sheep incident)

“You’re going to get a concept that maybe this really is one world and why the hell can’t we learn to live together like decent people.” ~ Astronaut Frank Borman, on seeing the entire earth from outer space as he and the crew of the Apollo 8 returned from orbiting the moon.

dead sheep in Skull Valley, 1968

The Skull Valley sheep kill, also referred to as the Dugway sheep incident, has been connected to the US Army chemical and biological warfare programs at the Dugway Proving Ground in Skull Valley, Utah. Six thousand sheep were killed on ranches near the base, and the popular explanation blamed the incident on Army testing of chemical weapons. A report first made public in 1998 was called the “first documented admission” from the Army that a nerve agent killed the sheep at Skull Valley.

Since its founding in 1941, much of the activity at Dugway Proving Ground has been a closely guarded secret. According to reports, Dugway was still producing small quantities of non-infectious anthrax as late as 1998, 30 years after the United States renounced biological weapons. There were at least 1,100 other chemical tests at Dugway during the time period of the sheep incident. In total, almost 500,000 lbs. of nerve agent were dispersed during open-air tests. There were also other tests, including 332 open-air tests of biological weapons, 74 dirty bomb tests, and eight furnace heatings of nuclear material under open air conditions to simulate the dispersal of fallout in the case of a meltdown of nuclear reactors.

The incident log at Dugway Proving Ground indicated that the sheep incident began with a phone call on March 17, 1968, at 12:30 a.m. The director of the University of Utah’s ecological and epidemiological contact with Dugway, a Dr. Bode, phoned Keith Smart, the chief of the ecology and epidemiology branch at Dugway to report that 3,000 sheep were dead in the Skull Valley area. The initial report of the incident came to Bode from the manager of a Skull Valley livestock company. The sheep were grazing in an area about 27 miles from the proving ground; total sheep deaths of 6,000–6,400 were reported over the next several days as a result of the incident. The Dugway Safety Office’s attempt to count the dead sheep compiled a total of 3,843.

(Source: Wikipedia)


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Here’s the #11 song from Billboard’s Year-End Top 100 Singles of 1968

“Harper Valley PTA” by Jeannie C. Riley

8 thoughts on “#AtoZ 1968 – “S” is for Skull Valley (Dugway sheep incident)

  1. I had never heard of this incident before, but by no means am I surprised. Plum Island; said to have the same security as Area 51, and Lyme Connectic follows the prevailing wind right down stream from the facility, but don’t worry, there is no way Plum Isalnd and Lymn Diesese are connnected; just read the Dugway story. Good one M!!


  2. I turned 10 in 1968, so a lot of the news things I don’t remember. My dad didn’t watch TV, so we couldn’t have it on once he was home. But Harper Valley PTA..I DO know that song! LOVE it!!


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