Yesterday while in the Fort Worth, TX area we took a trip to the Bureau of Engraving & Printing. This is one of only two sites in the U.S. that prints paper money. The other site is in Washington DC. The Fort Worth facility prints all denominations of cash, while the Washington DC facility only prints $10 and $100 notes. On any average production day this facility prints around $728,700,000 which is around 17.1 million notes PER DAY!
The facility was well guarded, for obvious reasons, with multiple layers of security. We were not allowed to bring any recording equipment into the facility including cell phones. I even had to leave my Garmin smartwatch in the van because it is capable of sending and receiving wireless data (bluetooth). We went through metal detectors and x-ray screening of any bags as well as physical search of baggage, similar to airport screenings. We then boarded a tram that actually took us onto the compound. Without detailing all the security features that I saw, one would be very hard pressed to make it to the employee parking lot without authorization, let alone getting inside the building.
Once inside, we watched a 15 minute video detailing the printing process, strolled through two floors of exhibits, and took a self-guided tour of the production floor via a walkway. The tour included a “wand” that played an audio clip at each of the 9 stops along the tour. Visitors view the production floor from an elevated walkway with windows the entire length of the walkway. Having worked in the cash-processing industry in the past I could definitely appreciate the distinctive smell of new money that was present along the tour. We saw the production process from blank sheets of paper to final packaging and stacking on a pallet for shipment. It was quite an informative and interesting tour that was well worth the trip.
We had expected this visit to be more adult-oriented, but the kids really enjoyed it too. They were telling me about the things they had heard on their audio tour.
The on-site gift shop offers a number of money related items including uncut sheets of money in any denomination. While it would be neat to have an uncut sheet of bills fresh off the presses, possessing such an item does not currently align with our minimalist RV lifestyle.
If you are in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, the B.E.P. is well worth the time…and it is a free tour!