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Of only TWO places in the U.S. where paper currency is printed, ONE of them can be found in Cow Town (Fort Worth, TX)! Reservations are not required, and visitors are welcome on a first come, first served basis. Visitors should allow an additional 30 minutes to clear the Western Currency Facility (WCF) security. The tour itself is approximately 45 minutes along the quarter-mile elevated walkway.
The Tour and Visitor Center is open Tuesday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The last tour starts at 4:30 p.m. The WCF Tour and Visitor Center is closed on Mondays, weekends, Federal holidays, and the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. You can visit http://moneyfactory.gov/tours/fortwor... for more information.
This modern facility is located on the far north side of Fort Worth, TX, easy to find. Visitors are greeted by a huge electronic "neon" sign showing them the way into the visitor parking. Aside from having the feel of entering a prison (barbed wire security fence), it's a nice, big parking area and huge modern building. As you approach the small outbuilding, you hear a repeating announcement to leave all cell phones and cameras in your car . Return to your car then back to the security building for clearance (just like in the airports!) before boarding a bus to the main building. At the main building you enter into a two-story glassed visitor area staffed by uniformed officers and pleasant staff. Before or after your self-guided tour, you can visit the interactive exhibits (two floors!). You might be surprised to see that they show so much of the currency making process - from how money is designed, security features to prevent counterfeiting, engraving of the master plates, "growing" the working plates, the three types of printing processes and even how they valuate mutilated money. Some exhibits have repeating videos showing a close up of the processes which you can't really see on the walking tour.
During the self-guided tour, you can view the printing from way above the actual operations through large glass windows. You watch the workers on the various printing and inspection machines. Even though you're quite a way up from the floor, you can see the bright colors of ink, stacks of notes, inspection screens with magnified bills and such. Although the tours are self-guided, Visitor Center staff will answer all questions and are committed to finding out the answer if they don't know. The production areas look very neat and orderly and the entire faciility is professional and informative . They even have a fairly well stocked gift shop where you can buy uncut bills as well as souvenirs made with shredded money. They don't have books on what they show you but their website (www.moneyfactory.gov) covers almost everything you can learn on the tour and exhibits. Overall this is a great opportunity to learn something you didn't know about paper money in a very clean modern environment.