Time Capsules: Helium Centennial Time Columns Monument

From its name you might suspect this time capsule has something to do with helium. And you’d be right! It was built in 1968 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of helium. And it’s actually four time capsules: three legs supporting a central pole, each piece a time capsule in itself. The capsules are filled with books and artefacts and so on, sealed up within—you guessed it!—a helium atmosphere. Good job, helium—mainly for not being oxygen, which is bad news for…most things, actually. (Except as far as breathing is concerned).

It’s intended that one capsule will be opened after 25, 50, 100 and 1,000 years. Right again—the first one has already been opened! (In 1993). The first capsule was supposed to demonstrate our dependence on natural resources. (The subsequent capsules represent industry, science and history respectively, as they relate to our use of natural resources—I haven’t been able to find a list of contents via my inept googling). The contents of that capsule are now stored in the Don Harrington Discovery Center in Amarillo, Texas. (Helium is a major industry in Amarillo). In 1983 the Time Columns Monument was airlifted (by Army helicopter) to the centre from its original home (elsewhere in Amarillo). Apparently the monument is about six storeys high. I wish I could find a picture of that.

NB: the 1,000-year time capsule contains a $10 passbook account that when the capsule is opened will be worth eleventy million dollars. If we still have banks. (Let’s face it, if we still have banks they will have figured out how to eat up all that money in fees by then).

The Helium Monument. Looks a bit like a flagpole. Hard to imagine it stuffed full of books and things. (Image from Wikipedia).

The Helium Monument. Looks a bit like a flagpole. Hard to imagine it stuffed full of books and things. (Image from Wikipedia).