It is often simple to forget that the value of “regular” (also known as non-crypto) money is primarily based on a very tangible substance: Gold in this day of electronic transfers and cashless transactions. The gold standard underpinned all American money from 1900 to 1971. The U.S. Mint theoretically backed each paper dollar it produced with an equivalent amount of government gold.
So, exactly how much gold is kept at Fort Knox?
History of Fort Knox
Fort Knox is situated at the junction of Bullion Boulevard and Gold Vault Road in Fort Knox, Kentucky. It was built in 1936 to house the massive gold reserves that came about because of an order issued by President Roosevelt in 1933.
The US government owned gold at the time valued $4 billion. That sum grew to $12 billion by the time everyone had complied with the new directive. With no place to put all of the gold, the Federal Government decided to take over a portion of land reserved for the military, and build a massive vault. In December 1936, work was finished for a little under $600,000 ($10 million in today’s currencies). The gold started to come in in January 1937.
The main vault’s 20-ton, 21-inch-thick, torch- and drill-resistant door is the sole way to get to the gold and other objects deemed crucial to US security or history as well as goods that are kept inside. No visitors are permitted inside the building, and only a tiny number of employees are aware of the entrance codes. There are other smaller vaults inside the larger one, and each one has its own admission codes. The entire complex is constantly guarded by a specialized police team known as the United States Mint Police. In addition, there are numerous attack helicopters, artillery, barbed wire, cameras, microphones, and alarm systems. There is an escape tunnel if an employee is locked in, although not much is known about the tunnel by the general public.
Getty Images/Hulton Archive
How Much Gold???
The quantity of gold kept at Fort Knox has changed over time. When various European nations transported their gold stockpiles to Kentucky for storage during World War II, it reached its highest level. At this time, Fort Knox had a maximum of 20,205 metric tons of gold (650 million oz. troy). Also during WW2, the original copies of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were moved to Fort Knox as were the Hungarian Crown Jewels and a copy of the Magna Carta.
Currently, the vault holds 4,578 metric tons of 368,000 standard, 400 oz. bars of troy gold. Three percent of all the gold that has ever been discovered and polished throughout human history equates to that. Fort Knox is secure at today’s price of about $1,800 per ounce.
$253 billion worth of gold!
It’s interesting to note that the biggest gold reserve in the US is not located in Fort Knox. 7,000 metric tons of gold bullion are kept in an underground vault run by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York therefore holds…
Roughly $500 billion worth of gold!
Other countries own some of this gold, which is kept in trust. Anyone who has seen the movie “Die Hard with a Vengeance” will recall that the bad guys were attempting to steal the gold from the Federal Reserve in NYC using huge trucks and construction tunnels under the city.
There is more gold stored on American soil than any other nation in the world between Fort Knox and the Federal Reserve Bank in Manhattan. However, the lesson here might be to ignore Fort Knox and concentrate on the Fed in Manhattan for all you supercriminals reading this. Double the reward!