DELTA, Utah — The family of a man who claims to have found millions of dollars worth of gold and antique guns in a desert cave says he's tired of dealing with the federal government, and plans to just leave the cache where he found it.
"He's having a terrible time with it," Glen Taylor told The Associated Press on Friday of his son, Scott.
Scott Taylor, 34, has been a virtual recluse since news broke this week on two Salt Lake television stations that he allegedly stumbled across a lost fortune while hiking on public land in west Utah about a month and a half ago.
Taylor told the television stations he found 280 gold bricks with "U.S. Cavalry" stamped on each; two Civil War-era rifles; a six-shooter; and dynamite.
"He is the only one who has claimed to see it and knows the location. Until he shares that with somebody, nothing can be verified," Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Laura Williams said Friday.
The problem, the Taylors say, is the federal government's unwillingness to kick over some of the profit as a finder's fee, which they say one Brigham Young University professor estimated should be 40 percent.
"It's not up to us to negotiate," Williams said. "It's not our gold, if it exists.
"If his story is true, and clearly marked, we know who it belongs to, and the Army can take it," she said, adding that Scott Taylor is not returning their phones calls, either.
"We think at this point that the best thing for us to do is not make a comment," said Army spokeswoman Martha Rudd. "It would be too hypothetical. We would have to know a lot more about what's going on."
So, rather than battle this out in court, the Taylors say they will let the gold sit.
Taylor couldn't simply claim the gold as a find, Williams said. "If it was ore in the ground, he'd need a mineral permit to remove it. If it's smelted into gold bars, it's protected by ARPA," the Archaeological Resources Protection Act.
Glen Taylor said his son left the cache where he found it because he immediately recognized its historical importance.
News of the find spread quickly, and Scott Taylor moved just as fast to avoid the spotlight.
He hasn't been at work since the news broke, said David Young, manager of the Quality Market. He's stopped answering his phone, and even his father didn't know where Scott was on Friday.
But just like the Old West, people already are hot on the trail.
Penny McCann, office manager for the Delta-area Chamber of Commerce, said tourists already visit the area from as far away as Europe to scour the desert for rocks and fossils, and interest is definitely up since the news of Taylor's find.
The chamber sells about five to 10 pamphlets a week directing visitors to rock-gathering sites. In just 90 minutes Friday, she sold 12 — all, she says, to out-of-towners, many of whom asked about old gold mines.
"No one ever really asked about that before," she said.
The Taylor family isn't saying much to help anyone find it. Scott Taylor has only told federal officials that he found the cave in rugged, mountainous land after driving about two to three hours west of town, followed by a hike of two to three hours.
The find might be the talk of the town, but not many locals are rushing out to scour a rocky maze of rattlesnakes, scorpions and hidden mine shafts. Skepticism on these kinds of buried riches stories are natural in this Old West outpost.
"It's an interesting story, but I'd have to see proof," said Sindy McMichael, who has lived in the area about nine years.
"People want to believe something is out there. That's not to say there might not be, but I haven't seen the evidence that these things exist," said Philip Notarianni, state historian. "My thinking is, if something did exist and he did find something, the best way to get an agency to cooperate with him is to show evidence."
Associated Press writers Mark Thiessen and Debbie Hummel in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.