United States Bullion Depository

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The United States Bullion Depository, commonly called Fort Knox, is a fortified vault building located near Fort Knox, Kentucky, which is used to store a large portion of United States official gold reserves and, occasionally, other precious items belonging or entrusted to the federal government. The United States Bullion Depository holds about 4,603 tons of gold bullion (147.4 million troy ounces). It is second in the United States only to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's underground vault in Manhattan, which holds about 5,000 metric tonnes of gold in trust for many foreign nations, central banks and official international organizations. In 1936, the U.S. Treasury Department began construction of the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky, on land transferred from the military. The Gold Vault was completed in December 1936 at a cost of $560,000, or about $7.5 million in 2007 dollars. The site is located on what is now Bullion Boulevard at the intersection of Gold Vault Road. The first gold shipments were made from January to July 1937. The majority of the United States' gold reserves were gradually shipped to the site, including old bullion and more newly made bars made from melted gold coins. Some intact coins were stored, as well. The transfer needed 500 rail cars and was sent by registered mail, protected by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. During World War II, the repository held the original U.S. Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution. It also held the reserves of several European countries and several key documents from Western history; for example, it held the Crown of St. Stephen, part of the Hungarian crown jewels, given to American soldiers to prevent them from falling into Soviet hands. The repository also held one of four known copies of Magna Carta, which had been sent for display at the 1939 New York World Fair, and which, when war broke out, was kept in America for the duration. Below the fortress-like structure lies the gold vault, which is lined with granite walls and which is protected by a blast-proof door that weighs 22 tons. No single person is entrusted with the entire combination to the vault. Various members of the Depository staff must dial separate combinations known only to them. Beyond the main vault door, smaller internal cells provide further protection. The facility is ringed with several fences and is under armed guard by officers of the United States Mint Police. The Depository premises are within the site of Fort Knox, a United States Army post, allowing the Army to provide additional protection. The Depository is protected by numerous layers of physical security, alarms, video cameras, armed guards, and the Army units based at Fort Knox, including Apache helicopter gunships of 8/229 Aviation based at Godman Army Airfield, the 16th Cavalry Regiment, training battalions of the United States Army Armor School, and the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Infantry Division, totaling over 30,000 soldiers, with associated tanks, armored personnel carriers, attack helicopters, and artillery. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]

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