Fort Knox Facts: A United States Army Facility In Kentucky

Aashita Dhingra
Jan 23, 2024 By Aashita Dhingra
Originally Published on Apr 13, 2022
Fort Knox on the Penobscot River, Maine
Age: 3-18
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Situated in Kentucky, Fort Knox is US Army Installation and is adjacent to the US Bullion Depository, which stores gold reserves of the United States.

The 170 sq mi. (440 sq km) area of Fort Knox covers parts of Hardin, Meade, and Bullitt counties. For close to 60 years, Fort Knox remained the home of the United States Army Armor Centre and Army Armor School.

Both these centers were used by the marine corps and the defense forces to train crews on American tanks. Named after Henry Knox, the first US Secretary of War, Fort Knox also houses a museum that displays the history of US Armored forces and the Army's Cavalry. From 2014, Fort Knox started boarding the US Army Cadet Command; since then, summer training for ROTC cadets has taken place here. In October 2020, V Corps was again activated at Fort Knox.

The United States Bullion Depository, otherwise called Fort Knox, is guarded by the US Mint Police and supposedly holds around 2.5% of the world's refined gold reserves. The fortified gold vault was built adjacent to the Army Post on the land transferred by Fort Knox in 1936. Now, it safeguards gold bars and gold coins, but, in the past, it has also protected other precious items like the US Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.

History Of Fort Knox

Since 1918, Fort Knox has remained under the reservation of the US military. At that time, Knox played an integral role in developing military equipment, tactics, and doctrine. When discussing the history of Fort Knox, one cannot ignore the surrounding areas. The area was initially part of Hardin, Bullitt, and Meade – three Kentucky counties.

In 1792, Hardin County was built, and in 1928, 1/12th of its area was given to the United States to build Camp Knox. Fort Knox is spread over 61,000 acres (24685 ha) of Hardin. Bullitt county was established in 1796, and around 35,000 acres (14163 ha) of it is a part of Fort Knox. The 76th county of the nation, Meade County, was formed in 1823, and Fort Knox occupies around 15,000 acres (60702 ha) of it.

Fort Knox came under the control of American soldiers during the Civil War. In 1861, fortifications were built around the site with the construction of Fort Duffield. Muldraugh Hill, where this fort was located, was a strategic point that overlooked the confluence of Ohio Rivers and Salt. This area was often raided during the strife and contested by Confederate and Union forces. In 1862, this area was raided by John Hunt Morgan and the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry before the famous raid across Ohio and Indiana.

At the time of the cold war, the defense forces were concerned about the nation maintaining a healthy stock of pain killers in case foreign sources were cut off. Hence, the officials opened the door of the Fort Knox vault to store tons of opium. The staff was refined into morphine in 1993. To date, Fort Knox vault stores the stuff, along with gold bars.

Post Civil War

After the Civil War, Fort Knox's area under defense forces' control housed several small communities. In 1903, military maneuvers were held at West Point in Kentucky for many states' army officers and national guards. At the same time, this area was considered a military post site, but no action was taken till World War One.

At that time, Camp Henry Knox was established on 10,000 acres (4046 ha) leased by the Congress in Stithton's vicinity. Then in June 1918, Congress earmarked $1.6 million for the purchase of 40,000 acres (16187 ha), and the next month, the building of the camp began only to be soon curtailed in November of the same year. In 1922, the post was closed, but it continued to serve as a training site till 1932.

In 1932, Camp Knox was used as a permanent garrison, and with this, its name was changed to Fort Knox. The following year, it saw its first cavalry regiment. The 13th cavalry regiment joined it in 1936, and together they transformed the site into a place for cavalry mechanization and developed many doctrines and tactics.

Later in 1940, a new armored force was developed, with Fort Knox becoming its headquarters. The Armored Force Replacement Center and the Armored Force School were built there in the same year. By 1943, over 100,000 acres (404685 ha) on the site had 3,820 buildings.

Construction And Security

While the Fort Knox vault was built in 1918, the building of the US Bullion Depository in Gold Fort Knox started in 1935 with the transfer of land from the military to the treasury. The Depository was built to preserve the valuable metal bullion reserves of the US. It did not take much time for the construction to be over. By December 1936, the depository was ready. Around 16,000 cubic ft (453 cubic m) of granite, 113355 cubic ft (3200 cubic m) of concrete, 670 tons (6,07,814 kg) of structural steel, and 750 tons (6,80,389 kg) of reinforcing steel were used. The construction cost of the vault was estimated at $5,60,000.

The gold vault got its first shipment of gold in 1937. It was sent from New York Assay Office and Philadelphia Mint. In 1942 during World War Two, the Gold Fort Knox building stored the founding documents of the US. After that, it continued storing valuables, including crown, sword, orb, and Magna Carta., apart from gold bullion and gold bars.

Amid rumors that the vault did no longer contain the gold reserves and gold bullion depository, Fort Knox allowed a Congressional delegation and a few journalists to view the gold reserves, including the gold bars, in the vault. This was the first time outsiders were allowed in the gold bullion vault after President Roosevelt's visit in 1943. In 2017, the vault was opened for the second time for Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, Congressional representatives, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

Protected by steel fences, Fort Knox is considered the tightest security available on the planet. It is guarded by the US Mint Police, whose members undergo weeks of training to become eligible to be part of the team guarding the Knox. They are taught weapon handling, door entry, room clearing, and cornering during the training period, among other heavy-duty skills. If this is not enough, the place is guarded by all the modern protective devices. Rumors have it the grounds have electric fences and land mines. Besides, the Bullion Depository is near the US Army Post and ground, where military troops worldwide come for training.

The Army Base, along with the Bullion Depository, has made Fort Knox one of the most historic places in the world. Home to several organizations and commands, on an average, above 25,000 people, including soldiers, employees, and military family members, could be found during the daytime. You will primarily find three gates in Fort Knox – Chafee Gate, Wilson Gate, and Brandenburg Gate.

Fort Knox interior


Q: What is Fort Knox known for?

A: Fort Knox is known for the army post and the US bullion depository, which stores the nation's gold reserves and has the strongest physical security.

Q: Has anyone robbed Fort Knox?

A: No, nobody has ever attempted to rob Fort Knox, considering the security the place has. Besides, visitors are not allowed inside the military installation that grounds the building. This has made robbing the gold vault pretty impossible.

Q: How much gold is in Fort Knox?

A: There is over 147 million troy oz (4,580 metric tons) of gold worth over $6 billion in the vault. The depository stores over 56.35% of the gold reserve of the Treasury. A single gold bar inside the vault weighs around 400 troy oz (12.4 kg).

Q: What is hidden in Fort Knox?

A: Apart from gold, Fort Knox has stored several other valuables. Some of them are the Magna Carta. Constitution and Declaration of US Independence, Hungary's Holy Crown, Opium and Morphine.

Q: Why is Fort Knox so heavily guarded?

A: Almost half of the US's gold reserve is stored in Fort Knox, making it a strategic, financial, and economic asset, needing round-the-clock security.

Q: What is inside Fort Knox?

A: Besides the vast gold reserves, it is also a treasure trove of historical artifacts.

Q: What is Fort Knox used for?

A: Fort Knox now also serves as the US Army Cadet Command, besides the repository of various artifacts connected to the on-premises Patton museum.

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Written by Aashita Dhingra

Bachelors in Business Administration

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Aashita DhingraBachelors in Business Administration

Based in Lucknow, India, Aashita is a skilled content creator with experience crafting study guides for high school-aged kids. Her education includes a degree in Business Administration from St. Mary's Convent Inter College, which she leverages to bring a unique perspective to her work. Aashita's passion for writing and education is evident in her ability to craft engaging content.

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