The U.S. Bullion Depository at Fort Knox sounds like it’s straight out of a Hollywood thriller. With blast-proof doors, razor fencing, and rumored mine fields, the Kentucky fort is one of the world’s most secure locations.
It should be, considering it contains over 5,000 tons of the government’s gold reserves, worth some $180 billion as of 2016. That’s over half of the nation’s gold reserves. Chances are you’ll never set eyes on this gold, though. To ensure the holdings’ safety, there are some pretty cinematic measures taken to thwart any would-be heists.
Any fictional villains would have to overcome the following features to catch even a glimpse of the gold.
1. Fences, Fences, and More Fences
Before you even get to the most secure building in America, you’ll have to talk your way onto a U.S. Army base. Then you’ll face four circles of fencing around the Bullion Depository. The first fence looks innocuous, but is armed with motion detectors. The second fence is a 10-foot electrical fence, with concrete supports; the third is also electrical, with several doors for guards; and the fourth is the original, 1937-built, wrought-iron barrier that wraps around the building in an octagon.
2. Guards Around Every Corner
At each exterior corner of the building, there is an armed guard box. They are manned around the clock, with submachine-gun-wielding personnel. In the 1970s, even more guards were added on the upper levels. There are sentries at the entrance gate too, just to be sure.
3. Walls as Hard as Rock
If you somehow manage to get past the four fences and exterior guards, you’ll find Fort Knox’s walls are as hard as rock — because they are made of rock. Four-foot-thick granite, to be precise. Some people believe these walls are then lined with cement, steel, and fireproof materials.
4. Dark Windows
Don’t try and sneak a peek in the windows — they’re tinted inside and out. On top of that, they’re fireproof and bulletproof, so there’s little chance of infiltrating the facility through them.
5. Heavy Lifting
The door into the vault weighs nearly 22 tons of blast-proof material. Good luck getting through that without…
6. Multiple Combinations
It’s a team effort to get into the vault in the first place. Different depository staff have different combinations, only known to them. They have to enter them separately to get in.
7. Super Surveillance
Once inside, smile — you’re on camera. There are multi-focus surveillance systems at every corner of the depository’s hallways. This allows for every last square inch of the facility to be monitored, 24/7.
8. Armed Neighbors
If you somehow manage to make it past the outer defenses, past the sentries, learn the codes, and avoid detection by the internal surveillance, chances are that getting back out will pose an issue. The facility is within the Fort Knox army post, home to thousands of trained soldiers, 300 tanks, armed personnel carriers, attack helicopters, and artillery, all available to jump in to protect the depository if necessary.
9. Myth and Legend
While these are well-known, verified systems used at Fort Knox, there are also quite a few mechanisms that are theorized to be in place by urban legend and conspiracy enthusiasts. People have claimed the depository is protected by everything from biometrics to flooding tunnels to landmines, which people say are hidden somewhere between the fences.
Even without these more mythical defenses, Fort Knox remains a facility to be reckoned with. In fact, no one has even attempted a break-in since it opened in 1937. You can trust that the protection of this national treasure is as good as, well, gold.