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Morphine and opium were stored at Fort Knox-AN UNCLASSIFIED PEEK INSIDE FORT KNOX

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On a grimmer note, during the Cold War, morphine and opium were stored at the Depository in case they were need in huge quantities after a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union.

Former U.S. Mint Director Philip Diehl writes a weekly column for CoinWeek. On April 16th he discusses the nation's gold storage facility at Ft. Knox, KY. Diehl is one of only a small number of outside observers to have visited the high-security location. Here's a short excerpt; be sure to read the complete version online. -Editor

From the outside, the Depository appears to be a concrete, depression-era structure“ nothing special, unlike the Fort Knox of Hollywood fame. But, it IS well protected. There are concentric rings of defenses starting with the two-story vault, itself. The vault is small, less than 4000 square feet, and two stories high. Its walls are two feet thick and constructed of concrete-encased steel plates, steel I-beams, and steel cylinders laced with hoop bands. The vault walls and roof are separated from the Depositorys outer walls and roof, which are constructed of granite-lined concrete. The vault door is blast-, drill-, and torch-proof, 21 inches thick, and weighs in at more than 20 tons. It is set on a 100-hour time clock and is rarely opened.

Four armored guard boxes stand at each corner of the building and armored sentry boxes flank the entrance gate. The facility has stand-alone emergency power, water and other systems on site. The next ring of protection is the heavily armed and highly profession members of the United States Mint Police Force who can engage intruders from inside the fortress to beyond the outer steel fence. Between the walls of the Depository and the outer perimeter lie rings of razor wire and mine fields, monitored by high-resolution, night-vision video cameras and microphones.

The Depository sits on the Fort Knox Army post at the corner of Bullion Blvd. and Gold Vault Road (no kidding). When I was director, the post offered additional protection in the form of the 194th Armored Brigade, helicopter gunships, artillery, and as I recall, 25,000 soldiers. I know that Fort Knox has gone through significant downsizing over the past decade, so Im uncertain how much of this firepower is available today.

During my visit, I asked if anyone had been crazy enough to try to penetrate these awesome defenses. I was told that on one or two occasions, an inebriated soldier, looking for a shortcut back to base from a local bar and not knowing where he was, had attempted to climb the outer fence. You can imagine the sobering effect the floodlights, alarms, and booming speakers would have had on the unfortunate fellow.

Today, Fort Knox holds about 4600 metric tons of gold worth close to $200 billion dollars. This represents 2.5% of all the gold ever refined”as in ever in the course of human history. During World War II, the Depository held more than four times its current holdings.

But gold might not have been the most valuable asset held by the Depository. Over the years, Fort Knox has protected copies of the Gutenberg Bible, the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Gettysburg Address, among other priceless artifacts. On a grimmer note, during the Cold War, morphine and opium were stored at the Depository in case they were need in huge quantities after a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union.
From E-Sylum 2014 via NNP

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