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