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Dugway Proving Ground

Dugway Proving Ground (DPG) is a US Army facility located approximately 85 miles (140 km) southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah in southern Tooele County. It encompasses 801,505 acres (3,243.576 km², or 1,252.352 sq mi) of the Great Salt Lake Desert and is surrounded on three sides by mountain ranges. It had a resident population of 2,016 persons as of the 2000 census, all of whom lived in the community of Dugway, Utah, at its extreme eastern end.

The transcontinental Lincoln Highway passed through the present site of the Dugway Proving Ground, the only significant section of the old highway closed to the public. At least one old wood bridge over a creek still stands.[2]



Dugway's mission is to test US and Allied biological and chemical weapon defense systems in a secure and isolated environment. DPG also serves as a facility for US Army Reserve and US National Guard maneuver training, and US Air Force flight tests. DPG is controlled by the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command (TECOM).


In 1941, the Chemical Warfare Service (CWS) determined it needed a testing facility more remote than the US Army's Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland. The CWS surveyed the Western U.S. for a new location to conduct its tests, and, in the spring of 1942, construction of Dugway Proving Ground began.

Testing commenced in the summer of 1942. During World War II, DPG tested toxic agents, flamethrowers, chemical spray systems, biological warfare weapons, antidotes for chemical agents, and protective clothing. In October 1943, DPG established biological warfare facilities at an isolated area within DPG (Granite Peak). DPG was slowly phased out after World War II, until becoming inactive in August 1946. The base was reactivated during the Korean War and in 1954 was confirmed as a permanent Department of the Army installation. In October 1958, DPG became home to the U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, and Radiological (CBR) Weapons School, which moved from the U.S. Army Chemical Center, Maryland.

In March 1968, 6,249 sheep had fallen sick in Skull Valley, an area nearly thirty miles from Dugway's testing sites. When examined, the sheep were found to have been poisoned by an organophosphate chemical. The sickening of the sheep, known as the Dugway sheep incident, coincided with several open-air tests of the nerve agent VX at Dugway. Local attention focused on the Army, which initially denied that VX had caused the deaths, instead blaming the local use of organophosphate pesticides on crops. Veterinary autopsies conducted on the dead sheep later definitively identified the presence of VX. The Army never admitted liability, but did pay the ranchers for their losses. On the official record, the claim was for 4,372 "disabled" sheep, of which about 2,150 were either killed outright by the VX exposure or were so critically injured that they needed to be euthanized on-site by veterinarians. Another 1,877 sheep were "temporarily" injured, or showed no signs of injury but were not marketable due to their potential exposure. All of the exposed sheep which survived the initial exposure were eventually euthanized by the ranchers, since even the potential for exposure had rendered the sheep permanently unsalable for either meat or wool.

The incident, coinciding with the birth of the environmental movement and anti-Vietnam War protests, created an uproar in Utah and the international community. The incident also starkly underscored the inherent unpredictability of air-dispersal of chemical warfare agents, as well as the extreme lethality of next-generation persistent nerve agents at even extremely low concentrations.

On September 8, 2004 the Genesis spacecraft crashed into the desert floor of the Dugway Proving Ground[3].

U.S. General Accounting Office report

The U.S. General Accounting Office issued a report on September 28, 1994, which stated that between 1940 and 1974, DOD and other national security agencies studied "hundreds, perhaps thousands" of human subjects in tests and experiments involving hazardous substances.

The quote from the study:

... Dugway Proving Ground is a military testing facility located approximately 80 miles from Salt Lake City. For several decades, Dugway has been the site of testing for various chemical and biological agents. From 1951 through 1969, hundreds, perhaps thousands of open-air tests using bacteria and viruses that cause disease in human, animals, and plants were conducted at Dugway... It is unknown how many people in the surrounding vicinity were also exposed to potentially harmful agents used in open-air tests at Dugway.[1]

Alien speculation and Experimental Aircraft Testing

Following the public attention drawn to Area 51 in the early 1990s, UFOlogists and conspiracy theorists have suggested that whatever covert operations, if any, may have been underway at that location were subsequently transferred to DPG.[2][3][4][5][6][7]

The Deseret News reported that Dave Rosenfeld, president of Utah UFO Hunters, stated:

"Numerous UFOs have been seen and reported in the area in and around Dugway...[military aircraft can't account for] all the unknowns seen in the area. It might be that our star visitors are keeping an eye on Dugway too...[Dugway is] the new area 51. And probably the new military spaceport.[2]

Additionally, the nearby Michael Army Air Field has been called the "new Area 51" by some, with the Dugway Proving Ground serving as a buffer zone, as the Nevada Test Site served for Groom Lake. One frequently rumored test project is the Lockheed Martin X-33.[5]


  1. ^ "Is Military Research Hazardous to Veterans Health? Lessons Spanning Half A Century" 103rd Congress, 2nd Session-S. Prt. 103-97; Staff Report prepared for the committee on veterans' affairs, December 8, 1994, John D. Rockefeller IV, West Virginia, Chairman.[1]
  2. ^ a b Bauman, Joe (November 4 2004). "Is Dugway's expansion an alien concept?". Deseret Morning News.
  3. ^ Davidson, Lee (2005 August 1). "Dugway's size unclear". Deseret Morning News.
  4. ^ Rothstein, Linda (1998 May 15). "Area 51: The Dreamland Chronicles; book reviews". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 54 (3): 64. ISSN 0096-3402.
  5. ^ a b Wilson, Jim (June 1997). "The new 'Area 51.'U.S. Air Force moves its top-secret test site". Popular Mechanics 174 (6): 54. ISSN 0032-4558.
  6. ^ Smith, Christopher (May 23 1997). "Report: Utah Town, Air Force Headed for Close Encounter; Secret Base: Is It Headed For Utah?". Salt Lake Tribune ("): A1.
  7. ^ Manning, Mary (May 20 1997). "Magazine: Area 51 gear moving to Utah". Los Vegas Sun.
  • Dugway Proving Ground: Blocks 3000, 3001, 3004, and 3005, Census Tract 1306, Tooele County, Utah United States Census Bureau
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Dugway_Proving_Ground". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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