Billions in Gold, Treasures of History at West Point Mint

by Darrin Lee Unser on July 28, 2014 · 4 comments

Did you know that there is gold near the banks of the Hudson River in New York? And we’re not talking about a little bit of gold dust left in a creek bed, but tons of the precious metal.

Gold Bars at West Point Mint

This photo shows about half of the gold bars in one of the secured vaults at the West Point Mint

Secured inside vaults of the United States Mint facility in West Point are thousands of bars of gold. Some are held long-term as an asset of the United States. Others are only passing through, purchased on the open market to make gold coins.

We visited the vault of working bullion, and it was an awe-inspiring experience. Stacks of 99.99% fine gold bars weighing approximately 27.5 pounds apiece, or about 400 troy ounces, are neatly arranged by the thousands. There were 3,592 gold bars on the day of our visit, July 22, each worth about $524,100 for a total value of almost $1.9 billion.

Gold and Silver Bullion Bars at West Point Mint

Here is another view of the gold bars at one side of the vault. Toward the back (left) is a cage with silver bars.


Gold at West Point Mint, Close-Up

This photo shows a closer shot of the gold


Gold at West Point Mint

More gold bars are layered at another side of the vault


Another grouping of gold at West Point

Yet more gold at West Point

Bullion storage at the West Point Mint is by design. The facility was originally built as a bullion depository in 1937. The introduction of West Point Mint-produced coins and medals in the 1970’s did bring about changes. No longer was bullion storage its only purpose. Areas were converted to strike Lincoln cents in support of the Philadelphia Mint. Those coins had no mintmarks. The West Point facility at that time was not yet an official United States Mint.

Gold medal production followed in 1980. Within a few years, over $20 billion worth of gold was inside West Point Mint vaults, making it second only to Fort Knox for gold storage. It gained official status as a United States Mint on Mar. 31, 1988.

President Reagan Letter, West Point Designated as U.S. Mint

Built in 1937 as the West Point Bullion Depository, the West Point facility was officially designated as a United States Mint on March 31, 1998. That happened when President Reagan signed H.R. 2631 into Public Law 100-274. Reagan wrote the letter (pictured above) to former New York Congressman Hamilton Fish, Jr. Dated April 11, 1998, the letter recognizes Hamilton’s efforts in securing passage of H.R. 2631. The letter, the pen Reagan used to sign the bill into law, and a copy of the Act are framed and hang in an entry hall at the West Point Mint.

Speaking of Fort Knox, did you know that West Point was once nicknamed "The Fort Knox of Silver?" That’s because its original purpose was to store the precious metal.

Life Magazine article on West Point silver bullion

An article from Life Magazine, dated Dec. 9, 1942, discussing West Point’s hoard of silver. Notice how silver bars once lined to the top of the vault and were several deep. Back then, the West Point facility had a single mission of storing silver bullion, and it required several vaults.

West Point still holds silver. We saw 2,800 bars of 99.9% fine silver in the back of the vault, each weighing 1,000 ounces. Truth be told, the silver bars were not nearly as impressive as their gold counterparts, but they still had a value of over $21,000 a piece on the day of our visit.

1,000 Oz Silver Bars at West Point Mint

A few of the many pallets of 1,000 oz., 99.9% fine silver bars at the West Point Mint

Unexpectedly, it’s not all about gold and silver even in the vault. There’s a feeling of history inside it as well. Not lost are the many names adorning its walls. They include those of employees and a few outsiders lucky enough to enter. I think it’s quite neat, a call from the past, and shows the always present pride of Americans.

Bullion Scale and Names on Vault Wall - West Point Mint

This old, yet extremely accurate scale is used to weigh heavy bullion bars. In this photo as well as in others above, you’ll notice names of some of the people who have been inside the vault.

Stay tuned to CoinNews.net for additional articles about the West Point Mint.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Boz July 28, 2014 at 3:46 pm

What a hoot it must be to visit!

Richard July 28, 2014 at 4:20 pm

Very impressive, and thanks for the fascinating pictures. There also is a huge gold depository under Manhattan’s Water Street, with much of it held for foreign governments. It’s funny that these two get so much less publicity than Fort Knox.

One wonders how many coins (think 1933 double eagles) may have been melted down to make some of those bars!

JohnTurnbull July 29, 2014 at 10:36 am

I wonder who’s gold that is.

T Taft August 23, 2015 at 5:31 pm

The Life Magazine mentioned in this article is actually dated November 9, 1942, page 75, not December as noted.

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