What You Didn’t Know About Fort Knox

We all know from history classes, as well as TV shows, movies, and books, that all of America’s gold is kept in a vault in Fort Knox. This golden bunker in the heart of Kentucky is, of all places, a mysterious, secret and closely guarded place that few people have ever seen. After all, Fort Knox is the safest place in the United States. Besides piles of gold bars, what else do we know about this golden steel fortress? Let’s look at some of the little known facts about Fort Knox. 

Fort Knox is an octogenarian

Fort Knox was built in 1937, which means it is over 80 years old. The original construction cost of the gold bullion warehouse was $560,000, which would be about $10 million in today’s money. It was built with more than 4,200 cubic meters of concrete and 16,000 cubic feet of granite, with 750 tons of reinforced steel and 670 tons of structural steel. Despite its age, the structure is solid and impenetrable. The roof is so strong that it is bombproof. The door to the main vault cannot be breached by explosives, torches or drills – it is 21 inches thick and weighs over 20 tons. 

No one knows the “combination”

Strict security measures are in place to keep Fort Knox safe. This means that no one knows the full combination to access the golden vault. Instead, information is split between multiple people. Even information about who knows a part of the combination is classified. 

Yes, it contains gold

Conspiracy theorists often claim that the gold vaults at Fort Knox are empty, but the United States government claims that Fort Knox is home to a ton of gold. In fact, more. There is said to be over 147.3 million ounces of gold. Almost all of the gold was converted into gold bars, each weighing about 27 pounds. That amount of gold, in today’s gold market, means that Fort Knox is storing around $190 billion worth of gold. Back to conspiracy theorists. They believe that all the gold was removed and sold and that the government, to keep up with the ruse, painted a mound in tungsten bricks to look like gold bullion, just in case someone got a chance to peek inside the vault. 

Off limits to visitors

Although the Fort Knox depot is visible from the highway, it is not a tourist attraction. In fact, visitors are not welcome there. It’s so rare that outsiders get a chance to see the golden vault that when they do, it’s worth reporting. That’s what happened in 2017 when the US. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell were given rare access to the inner workings of Fort Knox – the first time visitors have been allowed in over 40 years. Mnuchin even tweeted a photo of him and McConnell holding gold bars, just to prove conspiracy theorists wrong. 

Even Presidents Don’t Have a Key to Fort Knox

Even the President of the United States,  the highest office in the country  , does not have access to Fort Knox. Only one president was allowed to enter the vault – Franklin Roosevelt. In 1943, Roosevelt was concerned that the vault was not secure enough to protect the gold reserves from enemy invasion. He traveled to Kentucky to personally inspect the vault and was reportedly very pleased with what he saw. 

Fort Knox has its own police force

Guarding Fort Knox and its gold reserves are members of the United States Mint Police. Founded in 1792, the Mint Police organization is one of the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agencies. Before being assigned the task of guarding the gold, each member of the Mint Police must undergo a three-month regiment of training, followed by five weeks of specialized training in the field. 

More than just gold

Fort Knox is so secure that it has been used for special deposits from time to time. During World War II, the United States government feared that Washington D.C. might be bombed, so the original copies of the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence were secretly moved to the gold vault at Fort Knox for safekeeping. In 1944 these historic documents were returned to Washington. 

Foreign Deposits

Fort Knox was also home to two other historically important items, but both were deposits from other countries. In 1939, at the start of World War II, the original Magna Carta, the English version of the Bill of Rights that was written in 1215, was taken to Fort Knox to protect it from the Blitzkrieg. It was returned to England in 1947. Also, during World War II, the Holy Crown of Hungary was secretly hidden in Fort Knox because Hungary’s leaders feared it would fall into Nazi hands. The crown remained in Kentucky long after the war ended. US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance presented it to a Hungarian delegation in 1978.