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The name, Fort Knox, conjures up images of solid gold bars, as far as the eye can see. The bullion depository is located at Fort Knox, Kentucky, however very few individuals ever lay eyes on this stuff of dreams.
Why did the gold reserves end up in the Bluegrass state? In the Gold Acts of 1933 and 34, the Federal Banks began collecting all gold and gold coins in private hands. This gold was to be the insurer of the dollar to other nations. In late 1934, the Treasury and War Departments realized they needed a safe, military installation to house the gold, so they began searching. Soldiers would provide the high level of security.
The search team sought a location East of the Mississippi River, away from the country's borders. The locations were narrowed to two: Fort Knox, Kentucky and Fort McClellan, in Alabama. Both were considered a secure distance from invaders and both had rough terrain perfect for military entrenchment.
Finally, Fort Knox was selected. The decision was also based on the fact the First Cavalry (mechanized), with the reputation as one of the fastest moving and hardest hitting units, was located there.
The first shipments of gold arrived in 1937. In all, 40 trainloads about 200 cars full were "buried" in that early transfer. Six major rail lines all cooperated to keep the gold on the right track to it's destination and so it remains today.
Hollywood has used the gold at Fort Knox at least once in the movies. Goldfinger, a famous James Bond film, was the tale of a grandiose plot against Fort Knox by a crazed millionaire named Goldfinger. In true Bond fashion, our hero was able to thwart the scheme to rob the entire gold reserve. Bond escapes and the U.S. Army counter-attacks and kills the bad guy. After the filming, a scale model of the bullion depository, used in the movie was donated to the museum which is located at Fort Knox.
Besides the "attack" in the movie Goldfinger, there have been other mock attacks on the depository. One of the more notable sieges took place in 1938. Heavy guns thundered, the ground shook, and overhead planes soared past, but the gold was defended.
There have always been rumors of other objects besides gold, stored in the vault. Over the years, some of the rumors have proven true. During World War II, the depository became the temporary home of documents from the Library of Congress. Included were: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States and Abraham Lincoln's autographed Gettysburg Address, among others. Treasury officials never openly discuss what is currently in the depository.
The U.S. Bullion Depository at Fort Knox is under the supervision of the Director of the Mint. A no-visitor regulation is enforced and the vault itself is very rarely opened. The only way you can see the building is from a distance. However, there's a good view of the compound from U.S. 31-W, between Fort Knox and Radcliff.