The Helium Centennial Time Columns Monument was erected in Amarillo, Texas in 1968 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of helium. Vice President Hubert Humphrey heralded the conservation of all natural resources, with the unique element of helium specifically when the Helium Monument was constructed. In a telegram on May 17, 1968, Vice-President Hubert Humphrey stated: “It is significant that as you celebrate two important anniversaries of scientific advance, you are also looking to the future and to the urgent business of conservation of America. These are the years – the next four or five, I think –when the balance between consumption and conservation of our natural resources will be decisively shifted one way or the other. WE have a choice: Protect the infinite riches of America now, or see them irrevocably lost to future generations. I have no doubt that morality and economics are on the side of conservation.”
Amarillo was selected for its central role in the US Government’s strategic helium reserve and the gas production from the Cliffside Gas Field beginning in 1927. The Bureau of Mines placed the Amarillo Helium Plant in operation in 1929 and has maintained its headquarters for the Federal Helium Program in Amarillo. In 1982 the Helium Monument was airlifted by helicopter from I-40 and Nelson to its current site at the Don Harrington Discovery Center.
Funding for the Time Columns Monument and site was obtained through contributions from individuals, and private and public organizations, especially those in the local helium industry. In May of 1993, the first time capsule in one leg of the monument was opened during a two-day celebration organized by the Silver Celebrations Committee.
The Helium Monument not only serves as reminder of the importance of conserving our natural resources and the strong cooperative effort between industry and government, but was also constructed as time capsule. Each column of the monument contains historical documents, and mementos from 1968. The Monument was dedicated by the federal government, industry and state of Texas. Each leg of the column was specifically dedicated to be opened in 25, 50, 100, and 1,000 years from its dedication in 1968.
25 year time capsule theme:
Man and His Dependence on Natural Resources
Opened in 1993
50 year time capsule theme:
Industry and its use of Natural Resources
To be opened in 2018
100 year time capsule:
Science and its development of natural resources
To be opened in 2068
1,000 year time capsule:
History of efforts toward conservation
To be opened in 2968
The monument and its contents were intended to serve as a reminder to future generation that natural resources should be conserved and used wisely.