In 1933, after Franklin D Roosevelt and Congress passed legislature removing gold currency from circulation, citizens were required to trade their gold currency and gold bullion for equivalent forms of money (at $20.67 per troy ounce). As a result, the US Government was left with a large amount of the precious metal and no means of storing it. In 1936, in an effort to create a secure structure for the gold, the US Treasury proceeded to being construction on the United States Bullion Depository.
The United States Bullion Depository, commonly known as Fort Knox, is located in For Knox, Kentucky, and holds the majority of our nation’s gold reserves – 147.3 million ounces, to be exact. This US gold bullion, along with other precious valuables either belonging to or entrusted to the US Government, is stored in the vault of the Fort Knox Depository, which is operated by and under the supervision of the US Mint.
The “Gold Vault,” as it is often referred to, was built in 1936 on a site that was previously part of the Fort Knox military base. The first gold was transferred into the vault one year after its construction, in 1937.
The highest amount of gold held in the Depository’s history was reached on December 31, 1941, and equated to 646.9 million ounces. The gold currently in the Depository is in the form gold bullion bars that weigh around 28 pounds and are rarely moved from the vault. Small quantities of gold have been taken out of the vault to audit the facility and test the gold for purity; however, no other gold has entered or left the vault in many years. In the past, Fort Knox has also been the home to several European countries’ gold reserves, the English crown jewels and historical documents such as the Magna Carta.
The heavy duty structure is impenetrable as it is constructed primarily underground and out of the strongest steel, granite, and concrete. During World War II, concerned Librarian of Congress, Archibald MacLeish, urged the Treasury of State to make sure US valuables like the Declaration of Independence could be stored at the Bullion Depository in Fort Knox, “in the unlikely event that it becomes necessary to move them from Washington.” Eventually, on December 23, 1941, due to the fear that the United States would be subjected to the raging war, and the historical valuables would be compromised, the US Declaration and the Constitution secretly transported to the Depository at Fort Knox for increased security.
In addition to bullion bars, the Kentucky Bullion Depository also stores monetary gold coins. Compared to the rest of the world, the United States owns more gold bullion than any other country, with most of it stored in Fort Knox. Due to the monumental amount of gold reserve stored at the facility and the tight security restrictions, visitors are prohibited from the Depository.