Commonly known as Fort Knox, the building most people think about when they hear that name, is the United States Bullion Depository, located next to Fort Knox, Kentucky. It stores much of the United States gold reserves and other valuable items belonging to the federal government.
How Much Gold is in Fort Knox?
The depository at Fort Knox holds 4,600 tons of gold bullion. Many people will be surprised to learn that this isn’t the largest deposit of gold in the United States. More will be surprised to learn the largest deposit is not in some rural outpost but in Manhattan. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has an underground vault that holds 5,000 metric tons of gold for foreign nations and international organizations.
The Creation of Fort Knox
In the 1930s, due in part to the 1933 confiscation of gold, the federal government vastly increased its gold reserves but had no place to store the gold. The US Treasury Department took overland from the military and began construction on the United States Bullion Depository. It was finished in 1936 and shipments of gold began.
During World War II, many important documents such the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were moved to Fort Knox for safekeeping. European countries also transferred important items such as the Hungarian Holy Crown to prevent confiscation from invading armies. Also held during this time was an original copy of the Magna Carta.
Although it holds a lot of gold now, Fort Knox has held even more gold in the past. During World War II, it held more than four times as much—over 20,000 metric tons. This is largely in gold bullion bars but also contains gold coins.
The Security at Fort Knox
As you would expect, security is serious at Fort Knox. Not one person is entrusted with the combination to the vault. Security is taken so seriously that the combination is distributed amongst ten separate people who must each dial their part of the combination before the 22-ton blast-proof door can be opened. In addition to the United States Mint Police, the United States Army also provides additional security to the facility.