The world is full of wonderful places to see, both manmade and natural. But then again there a few places that some people would rather you not see. People usually heavily armed and standing behind high fences with steel reinforced concrete walls for good measure.
US Bullion Depository, Fort Knox, Kentucky
With a reputation so well-known its name is synonymous for a well-protected place, the Depository at Fort Knox’s security features are not so well-known. Built in 1937, the Depository doesn’t hold all the US’s gold like many think but it did contain the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence during World War II. What little is generally known about the place includes: 1) The only way a non-employee of the Depository can gain entry is with written permission, from the President of the United States. 2) The main vault door has a 10 digit combination, with 10 different Treasury employees having access to one digit each, and none of them knows the identity of any of the other 9 and 3) Anyone who has worked there signs an agreement stating that revealing any security features of the Depository is punishable by death!
ADMAX, Florence Colorado
The United States Penitentiary in Florence, Colorado is a level 5 prison, the highest security level in the US federal prison system. But behind the guard towers, fences, and rows of razor wire lies something even more secure. The ADMAX (ADministrative MAXimum Security) unit is a prison unto itself. Looking like a three story bunker from the outside the ADMAX is reserved for the most dangerous inmates; those with a history of violence, escape risks, and those who are extremely high profile. Some of its current residents include: Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and Robert Hansen, the former FBI Agent convicted for spying for the Soviet Union for 20 years. Inmates are almost all on “no human contact” status and spend 23 hours a day in their cells, in which all the furniture is poured concrete including the stool, desk, and bed.
Area 51, Groom Lake, Nevada
Despite what certain movies and thousands of tin foil hat owning conspiracy theorists say, area 51 does not have alien corpses or a flying saucer. Part of the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) run by the US Air Force Material Command, Area 51 does serve a very real purpose. Part of the legendary “Skunk Works”, many of the US’s most secret and sophisticated aircraft have undergone their final flight tests here including the B-2 Bomber and the F-117 Nighthawk fighter. Part of its mystique lies in the fact that the US Government and Department of Defense will not officially recognize its true purpose.
Air Force One
Besides being leader of the free world, the President of the United States is a job with some pretty nice perks. One of them is a personal 747 (Air Force designation VC-25) for the occasional trip. Despite what a Harrison Ford movie would tell you, gaining admission to the aircraft is not an easy thing. Aside from the flight crew, who are career Air Force officers with thousands of hours of flight time, and the Secret Service detail (for which even experienced agents must go through another background check for), members of the press corps must wait at least a year before being given permission to fly aboard. As far as the plane itself, most of its features are classified.
White House Situation Room
Although certain parts of the White House are open for public tours, one place is not. Located 50 feet under the West Wing only the President, certain advisors and military officers are allowed access. Even official White House photographers can take pictures there only from certain angels. Even then they are closely inspected for any accidently captured classified information including reflections in eyeglasses.
Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Spitsbergen, Norway
If any Hollywood-esque calamity should befall our little blue ball in space, humanity can rest assured that we will still be able to grow food once we leave the bunkers. Located in an old coal mine in god-is-there-anytime-there-isn’t-a-foot-of-snow-here Norway, the Global Seed Vault contains seeds of just about every edible plant on Earth. Even countries that donated seeds to it are denied access, they have to request samples be sent back to them. To date there are 10,000 samples of 2,000 different groups of plants from 300 different species.
DMZ North/South Korean Border
With both countries still technically at war (the 1953 agreement that ended the Korean War shooting part was a UN sponsored cease-fire that is still in effect) and with very different political ideologies the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is one of the most militarized places on the planet. With over a million land mines and thousands of soldiers access is severely limited. One interesting fact though, there is a one hole golf there dubbed, not surprisingly, “The Most Dangerous Golf Course in the World.” Made by US troop to relieve boredom the course consists of a par 3, 192 yard hole and one of the most unique ground rules in the history of golf: the entrance sign reads: ”Do not retrieve balls from the rough, live mine fields.”