Located in Kentucky, the Bullion Depository is one of the most protected places in the world. Home to around 2.3% of all the gold ever mined throughout human history, it stores a large proportion of the United States official gold reserves. The Bullion Depository is conveniently housed within a United States army outpost, Fort Knox, making it impenetrable from attack.
Built in 1936 at a cost of $560,000, Fort Knox is composed of 750 tons of reinforced steel, 16,000 cubic feet of granite and 4,200 cubic yards of concrete.Understandably, the defences of Fort Knox are a closely guarded secret. Some we know about for sure, and some have only been speculated about. The outer shell is made up of 4-foot-thick granite lined with cement, steel and fireproof material and can withstand an atomic bomb. The outside courtyard uses multi-focus surveillance systems in order to spot any suspicious, unauthorised personnel. There have been rumours of a designated Fort Knox satellite defence system that can identify and destroy threats from extra-terrestrials. This is all backed up by 30,000 soldiers and an assortment of tanks and attack helicopters.
According to the US Mint, there is currently 147.3Moz of gold in the Bullion Depository. On the open market, this would be worth around $261.6B – that’s enough to give $809.66 to every citizen in the United States. A single gold bar weighs the same as a bowling ball, approximately 400oz or 27.5lbs.
Gold isn’t the only treasure which has been stored in Fort Knox over the years. One of the four known copies of the Magna Carta was moved to Fort Knox after the 1939 World’s Fair due to the outbreak of WW2, but was returned to Lincoln Cathedral in 1947. There was also a huge cache of morphine and opium stored in preparation for the Cold War in the event that the US’s supply of painkillers from foreign sources was disrupted.The American Constitution and Declaration of Independence was stored at the Library of Congress until 1952, but after the attack on Pearl Harbour by the Japanese, they were moved from Washington DC to Fort Knox for their protection until 1944. Again, due to war, the Holy Crown of Hungary was recovered by the 86th Infantry Division from Mattsee, Austria during WW2. Considering the threat of the Soviet Union, the crown was stored in Forst Knox until 1978.
Only one man has ever attempted to break into Fort Knox, although strangely, he didn’t plan on stealing any of the gold. Auric Goldfinger, villain in the James Bond classic Goldfinger, hatched a plan to detonate a radioactive bomb in the Bullion Depository, thus contaminating the gold for 58 years and leading to his own gold reserves increasing by up to 10 times. Luckily for us, Bond was there to save the day and economic chaos in the West was avoided.
In this infographic we take a look at the mystery and the facts surrounding one of the most notorious places on earth.