CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There's $1 million in cash sitting on a table inside the state treasurer's vault.
But there's a catch -- all the money is shredded.
Treasurer John Perdue keeps the sack of it around so the thousands of children who tour the vault each year can say they've held a million dollars.
"Watching these kids try to pick this bag up is really funny," Perdue said, making an attempt to lift it.
Perdue and spokesman Greg Stone showed off the vault at the Capitol last week. The vault, which was built in the early 1930s, was designed to keep money safe during an era when bank robbers ran rampant. Now, it primarily serves as a piece of history for the state.
As the Capitol was being completed in 1932, Treasurer W.S. Johnson worried about thieves breaking into the basic vault architect Cass Gilbert had planned, so he asked Gilbert to come up with something better.
Johnson's request tacked between $30,000 and $40,000 onto the cost of the project, which was a large sum during the Great Depression, Stone said.
Later correspondences revealed Gilbert's hesitation about building something that secure.
"'God, I didn't know if we could pull that off or not,'" Stone said, wiping his brow as he imitated Gilbert.
The finished product is essentially a vault within a vault, Stone said. The outer vault is made of three layers of steel, and the inner vault has concrete walls almost two feet thick, reinforced with more steel.
In its heyday, gunmen manned the vault. On Tuesday, Perdue led the way up a flight of stairs adjacent to the vault and onto a floor that now contains offices. He banged on the wall shared with the vault and explained that his guess was it used to be open, so gunmen could perch there and watch for thieves.