The Fort Knox facility holds more than 4,603 tons of gold bullion. This deposit is second only to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which also has an underground vault at its Manhattan location as trust for U.S. Banks and foreign organizations.
Due to the gold call-in of 1933 under FDR, all gold and gold bullion – with the exception of collectible gold coins – were confiscated by the government, as the government declared private ownership of gold an illegal act (see our other article, The 1933 Gold Call-In: What, How, Why for more information on this topic). This, of course, was later re-legislated by Nixon so that governmental gold hoarding could only be exercised in times of war and was not justified by a banking crisis.
Due to the forced selling of gold by citizens and buying of gold by the government, vast amounts of gold were acquired by the U.S. mints, and few adequate places of storage existed. The United States Department of Treasury constructed the Fort Knox, KY U.S. Bullion Depository in 1936. The land was granted by the military and cost $560,000 to construct. The physical transferring of the gold to the facility took more than seven months to move the bullion from banks across the country to the new location, requiring 500 railroad cars and the United States Postal Service to transport.
The Fort Knox institution has served as housing and storage for the U.S. Declaration of Independence, Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, Lincoln's Gettysburg address, three volumes of the Gutenberg Bible, Lincoln's second inaugural address and the Magna Carta. The crown, sword, scepter, orb, and cape of St. Stephen, King of Hungary also were stored at the Depository, before being returned to the government of Hungary in 1978. The vault has consistently held foreign reserves and other significant historical documents for periods in history.