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A Peek Inside Fort Knox: The Most Heavily Guarded Military Base
Inside Fort KnoxInside Fort Knox

A Peek Inside Fort Knox: The Most Heavily Guarded Military Base

Do we know all of what’s inside Fort Knox? From books, history classes, and TV shows, most Americans know Fort Knox was built to store massive deposits of gold. It is the most heavily guarded military base and one of the most secure places in the world. Aside from what we know of its gold reserves, Fort Knox is a mystery that few have ever seen.

Inside Fort Knox: Restricted Access

Where is Fort Knox? Fort Knox, Kentucky, is a 109,000-acre military base that encompasses the United States federal gold reserve and the Fort Knox Human Resource Center of Excellence. The resource hub is a complex that houses ~4,000 civilian and military personnel. This makes it the 6th largest urban community in its Commonwealth.

It’s snuggled 30 miles south of Kentucky’s largest and busiest city of Louisville and just north of the historic Elizabethtown. What makes this base so famous is the United States Bullion Depository, otherwise known as the impenetrable vault of Fort Knox. The installation as a whole plays a vital and central role in the nation’s military, leading the charge for training, recruiting, and support operations across the U.S.

More like this: Fort Knox, KY: In-Depth Welcome Center

You’re not the only one curious as to what is inside of Fort Knox. The vicinity is off-limits to visitors, and even the president of the United States has limitations. President Franklin Roosevelt has gone down in history as the only president to have ever been allowed entry into Fort Knox back in 1943.

The inner structures are undisclosed, but we can tell you that the building is made up of over 16,000 cubic feet of granite, 4,200 cubic yards of concrete, 750 tons of reinforced steel, and 670 tons of structural steel.

Fort Knox Security

The building’s integrity is unimaginable, yet even greater security measures are in place. Surrounding its exterior are two separate electric fences bounded by another thick concrete barrier. Searchlights lie above the innermost fence, and the security, which costs the government $5 million per year, is far from sparse.

It’s safe to say you’re not likely to stop in for a peek, but visitors are allowed to stand outside the gate of Fort Knox and take pictures. In searching for pictures inside Fort Knox’s vault, you’ll unfortunately discover many misleading photos of European bank vaults. There are, however, a few confirmed photographs and videos (like the one below) circling the web, like the 1974 photo of former Mint Director Mary Brooks inside Fort Knox’s gold vault.

If you’re hoping for an opportunity like this, however, don’t keep those hopes up. You’ll probably never see or touch Fort Knox gold in your life. In fact, Fort Knox gold bars are rarely moved out of the facility. The only time they’re taken out is to test the purity of the bars. However, it’s been many years since any gold in Fort Knox has been transferred.

Fort Knox Gold Vault

The extensive security is not simply for decoration. Fort Knox still serves its original purpose, holding roughly 147.3 million ounces of gold, which is just over half of the U.S. Treasury’s stored bullion. If you’re wondering how many U.S. dollars that translates to today, it’s almost $300 billion. At its highest hold holdings historically, it contained 649.6 million ounces in December of 1941.

That’s not too long after the very first pieces of gold arrived at the facility in 1937. Fun fact: The first gold in Fort Knox wasn’t brought by a super-secret caravan; it was delivered by train through U.S. Mail. Explore an image of the first gold bars to make it to Fort Knox during transport below.

fort knox gold mail
usmint.gov

One gold bar inside of Fort Knox weighs 27.5 pounds and, uniform to the U.S. Mint standards, is 7 inches long and 3.5 inches wide.

The front door to the vault weighs over 20 tons, and it is said that no one person knows its combination. Speculation of trip wires, landmines, and a satellite defense system has grown over the years but has never been confirmed. Still, the ultimate safe is protected by 27 inches of thick concrete and steel and is known to be able to withstand an atomic bomb.

History Pieces Inside Fort Knox

The U.S. government has made use of Fort Knox’s tight defenses for more than just gold. The Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence were all collected and stored inside Fort Knox for safety during WW2. Fort Knox has also been home to the Magna Carta and the cape of the King of Hungary in 1978.

It has not only kept history but also made history four years prior in 1974, when it opened its doors to a group of journalists and members of Congress. Before that day, President Roosevelt was the only non-authorized personnel to step foot inside Fort Knox and inspect the vault. Since then, only treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, Governor Matt Bevin, and a handful of other Congress members visited the vault in 2017.

Except for these honored journalists and elected officials, the public may never see the inside of Fort Knox for themselves. So, as the inner workings of the base are kept secret, the mysteries of Fort Knox will continue to live on.

Suggested read: How To Move to Groom Lake, Nevada and Get a Job at Area 51

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