Writing on the Treehouse Wall
When people think of stacks and stacks of gold bars hidden in a vault they think Fort Knox, but that isn’t accurate. The building people are thinking of is actually called the United States Bullion Depository, which is located adjacent to Fort Knox, Kentucky. The USBD is used to store a large portion of the United States official gold reserves. The remaining gold reserves are held in other various locations under the supervision of the United States Mint.
The facility was made necessary in 1933 when U.S President F. D. Roosevelt issued and Executive Order stating that it was illegal for private citizens to own gold bullion, gold coins, and gold certificates, forcing them to sell these to the Federal Reserve. This made the value of the gold held by the Federal Reserve to increase from $4 billion to $12 billion in just four years. And with this sudden influx of gold the U.S. Treasury Department found themselves with a large gold reserve and no place to put it.
In December 1936 the Depository was completed at a cost of $560,000 or about $8.5 million in today’s dollars. It was built with 16,000 cubic feet of granite, 4,200 cubic yards of concrete, 750 tons of reinforcing steel, and 670 tons of structural steel. The vault is protected by a blast-proof door weighing 22 tons which can only be accessed by Depository staff who must dial separate combinations known only to them. For security reasons, no visitors are permitted on depository grounds. This policy was introduced when the Depository was first established.
Today the current holdings are 147.2 million oz. troy, roughly 2.5% of all the gold ever refined throughout human history. The gold is in the form of 368,000 standard 400 oz. troy gold bars. At the June 17, 2012 rate of $1,618.82 an ounce the gold in the Depository is worth $238.290 billion. Although not all of the gold bars are of the same purity. The mint gold bars are nearly pure gold where as the “coin bars”, which are made from melted gold coins, are only 90% gold. But not all the gold is in the form of bars, the Depository also holds monetary gold coins.
The Depository is so well known for its collection of gold that people forget that many other rare and valuable items have been stored there as well. During World War II the depository held the original U.S. Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution. It also held one of four copies of the Magna Carta along with the Crown of St. Stephen, part of the Hungarian crown jewels.
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