Treasures come in an array of capacities. While the average person is far more concerned with hitting the lottery or protecting their (comparatively) measly savings, there is an entire class of people keeping some massive items and property under lock and key and even more interesting, many of these places are hidden in plain sight. Everything from governmental figures to high profile celebrities are helping to maintain some of the world’s most heavily guarded places. But what are they hiding? That’s an excellent question.
However, the “what” of these equations is one that may remain unanswered indefinitely. Although some of these locations are accessible to the public and there is tons of information detailing the reason these places are so heavily guarded, the average person will likely never get close enough to find out if they are telling the truth, one way or another. Sure, it can be argued that there is no reason to distrust the powers that be… but it could also be argued that high fructose corn syrup is actually good for our health. Either way, one thing’s for sure, these places exist. Many of which have been around for many decades, if not an entire century (or more). Since there will probably be no changes in either the level of security of these locations or our collective security clearance level, it seems we will have to settle for exploring these places via the world wide web. With that said, the following is an overview of 15 very interesting stories about the world’s most heavily guarded places.
15. Vanishing Iranian Gold Reserves (Undisclosed Location)
One of the world’s most impenetrable bank vaults, the Iranian Gold Reserve is actually one of the only places on this list that does not disclose its location. However, the fact that the location is unknown is part of the reason why the location is considered so secure. Surely, it is heavily guarded and is likely next to impossible to enter anyhow. Nevertheless, you still have to find it before you can even attempt to commit a security breach. Moreover, some speculate that the vault could be emptier than Capone’s vault. A Turkish-Iranian gold dealer by the name of Reza Zarrab is the center of an ongoing investigation in which involves the disappearance of hundreds of millions of dollars in gold reserves. The scam purportedly involved both Turkish and Iranian co-conspirators, and Zarrab was even involved in a bribery scandal that involved some high level Turkish leadership. The answer to the “where” of the Iranian Gold Vault remains a mystery, nevertheless, I would try and book Geraldo to host the live streaming of the opening. Just in case…
14. The Origins Of Bold Lane Car Park (England)
On the flip side, Bold Lane Car Park is one of the most unique entries on this list. Located in England, it is presumably the most secure car lot in the world and has been deemed the Fort Knox of car garages (let’s hope the cars are real). Either way, while many are in awe of its intricate design, very few are clear on how it came to be. In existence since the 70s, by the 90s Bold Car Lane had become a hot spot for beggars and petty thieves. In fact, in 1997, there were 161 reported incidents in the parking garage alone. Later that year, the garage contacted the Derby City Council as well as Ken Wigley, in order to address the security issues and begin implementing a system to counteract them. The rest is truly history and the place has been incident-free for over a decade. Car thieves, steer clear!
13. Controversial Mormon Secret Church Vaults (Utah)
One of the more controversial places on the list, the Mormon Church’s Secret Vault has been the subject of an array of eyebrow-raises and conspiracies for quite some time. Moreover, given that the Mormon faith itself has often been the subject of negative press and conspiracies, having a huge, heavily guarded vault does nothing to dispel the rumor that this church may be hiding something. Either way, the vault is said to hold the world’s largest collection of genealogical records, but that’s essentially all they will confirm. While they have allegedly made an attempt to be more transparent, that vault remains sealed tighter than a drum at all times. In fact, the last known time someone outside of authorized clergy gained access to the vault was in 1911 when a 21-year-old Prussian convert snuck in and took pictures of the many underground tunnels. Although it was highly controversial, there was nothing especially sinister found. But, does that mean all the rumors are false and the Mormon Church is totally innocent? Heaven only knows…
12. The Non-Federal Origins Of The Federal Reserve Bank (New York City)
Located in New York City, the Federal Reserve Bank is home to one of the largest collections of gold in the free world. Housed in a vault below the streets of Manhattan, perhaps the Federal Reserve is the true reason behind the long-time myth that American streets are paved with gold. Either way, the real story lies in the way in which the Federal Reserve was created. In short, many are not clear on whether the nation owns the Federal Reserve or if the Fed actually runs the nation. For one thing, the institution is not at all a federal business, it’s a private institution that is essentially lending this nation its money, with interest. If that sounds crazy, the most intriguing part is that although they continue to have a draining effect on the economy, they remain the sole source of printing cash for the entire United States.
11. Air Force One Photo Op (New York)
A presidential fleet of planes used exclusively for members of the cabinet, Air Force One is arguably one of the most secure methods of traveling on the planet. Most used by the president himself, occasionally, the planes are actually used for other things. Furthermore, the security alone is not the reason for the controversy. In 2009, there was a “photo op incident” which raised some eyebrows and likely, quite a few heart rates as well. A photo op was cleared by the director of the White House Military Office, Louis Caldera, for two low flying planes to circle the upper New York Bay. Although the incident was said to be innocent, many speculate that it was done purposely to cause a panic, to test some sort of technology, or for some other reason. Either way, it’s pretty safe to say that this aerial representative of ‘The American Dream’ appeared in the nightmares of many onlookers.
10. Vatican Secret Vault Conspiracy (Vatican City)
A highly controversial vault, although the Catholic Church has recently made an attempt to provide more transparency, critics assert that only church clergy is allowed to get close enough to its contents to know what is actually in there. However, there was a leak in recent years in which documents were said to be found that imply money laundering, blackmail, secret homosexual lifestyles, and much more. Although the clergy maintains that the claims were greatly “exaggerated”, one must wonder, which parts of them were telling the truth? Indeed, it doesn’t help to quell the more outrageous concerns being raised by those who oppose the Catholic Church and assert that it is an innately sinister institution. And it certainly doesn’t help that the Vatican has a high-powered telescope which they have, for some reason, opted to name L.U.C.I.F.E.R. (Google it). Either way, finding a way to find out for yourself will probably be more difficult than figuring out The Da Vinci Code. I wonder how much Tom Hanks truly knows…
9. Fools’ Gold At Fort Knox (Kentucky)
Home of the US Bullion Depository, Fort Knox is widely recognized for being one of the most secure facilities on the planet. Perhaps, more interesting, Fort Knox not only houses gold, but it is also said to hold important historical documents such as the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence, among others. Surrounded by a solid granite wall that is virtually impenetrable, in the context of the contents contained within this facility, the elaborate security measures still come across as overkill. Either way, some speculate that the whole thing is a ruse. Since the early 70s, many Americans believed that Fort Knox was totally empty, which sparked an audit that did quell concerns. However, most recently, Senator Ron Paul has requested that the government audit the purity of the 700,000 gold bars that are purportedly stored in Fort Knox. However, this audit has yet to come to fruition which has left many waiting, with eyebrows raised.
8. The ADX Suicide (Colorado)
A super-maximum security correctional facility and one of the most notorious prisons in existence, if you have never heard of ADX Florence Prison (nicknamed the Alcatraz of the Rockies), perhaps it may be because you call this place, “home”. Either way, certainly not for the faint of heart, some of the world’s most dangerous criminals have been housed between its walls. Either way, prison can have devastating effects on even the toughest criminal. In fact, in 2013, there was a highly controversial case in which an inmate killed himself. Suffering from serious mental health issues, Robert Knott ended his life after spending about a decade at the prison. Moreover, it was the details of the case that really brought to life the hellish nature of this facility. Not only were his severe mental health issues all but ignored by staff, but after hanging himself, the officers demanded that he remain in shackles and didn’t even notify his family about his death for 11 days! This certainly doesn’t sound like the light-hearted fun that appears on Orange is the New Black.
7. The Truth Behind The Doomsday Seed Vault Conspiracy (Svalbard)
The Doomsday Seed Vault is just as grandiose and terrifying as it sounds. Located in one of the most remote (but still fairly accessible) areas of the world, the official name of this vault is actually the Svalbard International Seed Vault. However, despite being called a “seed vault”, it is much more than that. Located inside of an old copper mine, the facility is heavily guarded, includes motion sensors, airlocks, blast-proof doors, as well as steel reinforced concrete that is a meter thick! In fact, it was implicated as a part of a governmental conspiracy on the controversial show, “Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura”, on an episode that asserts some super-secret plan exists amongst the elite to start a world war and hide beneath the surface, leaving all commoners to fend for themselves. Although this obviously couldn’t be confirmed, he did speak to several experts who asserted that at least parts of the conspiracy are true. Moreover, given that it houses over 250 million crop seeds, there is plenty of room for humans as well. Although it is said to have been built on the “just in case” basis, many speculate that there is much more going on beneath the surface (see what I did there?). Moreover, given that only donors are allowed to access the vault, many are wondering if all of those “crazy conspiracy theorists” may not be so crazy after all. Either way, let’s just hope we don’t find out The Day After Tomorrow…
6. World Jewish Congress Vs. Swiss Vaults (Switzerland)
One of the most secure banking options in the world, if you enjoy television and film, it is almost impossible to not have tuned into an array of storylines in which some dastardly supervillain has zillions hidden in a Swiss bank account. Moreover, the use of 3-key safe deposit boxes as well as the benefit of being designed (and possibly still protected) by the military are also obvious reasons for the attraction to these vaults. However, these vaults are subject to controversy for an entirely different reason. In 1995, the World Jewish Congress began negotiating with Swiss banks for allegedly keeping dormant Jewish accounts from WWI. Although litigation went on for quite some time, they did end up receiving a whopping $490 million! This has led others to ponder on what other treasures may be hiding in these vaults. I would certainly like to take a look at the financial records of my ancestors at this point. I’m just sayin’…
5. Bank of England’s Suspicious Gold Supply (England)
One of the most massive collections of gold bullion bars in the world, if you know anyone who is missing a rumored collection of hidden treasures, it might be a good idea to check here. With more than 4,600 tons of gold being safeguarded in what is also known as the UK’s largest gold vault, the supply of gold being held in the UK is second only to the one being stashed at the Federal Reserve Bank in NYC. However, the biggest controversy about this is that the average person cannot get close enough to confirm or deny its contents. Many have speculated that the gold could be fake and the real treasure may be elsewhere. Others still seem to believe there is either much more or much less gold in the vaults than is being reported. Either way, it’ll likely be quite a while before anyone is able to truly get to the bottom of it (see what I did there?).
4. Crossing The Line At The Korean Demilitarized Zone (Korea)
One of the most dangerous locations on the list, while other areas are certainly highly secure, the Korean Demilitarized Zone is downright dangerous. The land is 160 miles in length and is 2.5 miles wide; the KDZ is one of the most heavily guarded borders in the world and is the definition of being caught between a rock and a hard place. Given the rich, complicated history of the area, venturing into this zone represents much more than a simple security breach. Nevertheless, at least once a year, this area is totally peaceful, thanks to the women of the area. On the day known as the International Women’s Day of Peace and Disarmament, women from Cambodia, Guatemala, Liberia, and North Ireland all come together to promote peace. Although it will be a slow process, the fact that this act is being allowed should give us some hope for the future.
3. Hidden Treasures At Cheyenne Mountain (Colorado)
Once the command center for the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Space command missions, Cheyenne Mountain is one of the most secure facilities in the world for a very good reason. Created with the intentions of helping the U.S. further its reach in outer space, it is no wonder this facility was built in such a secure manner. However, Cheyenne Mountain is also the subject of a variety of conspiracy theories. Although none of the many speculations can be authenticated, one must wonder what exactly they are still doing underneath Cheyenne Mountain. This is largely due to the fact that although NORAD operations have long since been relocated, the center remains open and fully staffed. The powers that be assert that the reason is “just in case” it needs to be used for NORAD operations again. However, the “just in case” excuse is typically not a fan favorite.
2. The Greenbrier Bunker Museum (West Virginia)
An exclusive resort located in West Virginia, the Greenbrier bunker has been the subject of an array of conspiracies for quite some time. However, as luxurious as the resort is, the real treasure is below ground. One of the most massive underground bunkers in the country, the Greenbrier bunker was originally created as an emergency Cold War fallout shelter. However, many can’t help but remember when the story first broke in 1992. The reporter who blew the whistle on the bunker, Ted Gup, was blamed for supposedly compromising the safety of the powers that be by giving up the details of the location. While that may be true to an extent, Gup argues that he saved them. Given that the technology used to create it was so dated, Gup asserts that building a replacement was imminent. Although the place remains heavily guarded, these days it is nothing more than a glorified museum, complete with tours and all.
1. Iron Mountain (Pennsylvania)
In Pennsylvania, 200 feet below ground, lies one of the most interesting collections of vaults in existence. Although 95% of their tenants remain anonymous, it has been said that the government is still the biggest tenant (maybe it’s just me, but that doesn’t quite add up). More specifically, the vaults are positioned under an old limestone mine and compose 1.7 million square feet. Housing everything from that crazy photo of Albert Einstein sticking his tongue out, to the remains of the infamous Flight 93, it sounds like more of a time capsule than anything else. Nevertheless, given that some of the other known tenants consist of the likes of Warner Bros and the Smithsonian Institute, no matter what is down there, it is likely to become public knowledge at some point as they tend to want to draw in crowds and put on a show rather than keeping things secret.