DEXTER, Kan. — The population of Dexter, Kansas is under 300 residents, but a discovery that occurred here at the turn of the twentieth century put this small Kansas town on the map.

Located near the town’s center, is a place called Helium Memorial Park. The park commemorates the discovery of helium in the United States.

A sign at the park’s entrance that’s titled, “The gas that wouldn’t burn,” explains the discovery of helium in Dexter, Kansas:

“In 1903 natural gas was discovered in Dexter. Thinking of a prosperous future, people gathered to see the well fired. All were disappointed when the roaring gas blew out the flame. It was later analyzed to be helium. In 1927, a commercial plant supplied the Navy for its dirigibles (airships). In 1950, the demand sored when it was needed for nuclear reactors and missiles. The well sites no longer produce helium, however the gas that wouldn’t burn, lit the way to a multi-million dollar industry.”

Even though the helium well is tapped out, the pipe remains in Helium Memorial Park as a historical marker. There is also another historical marker near the intersection of Kansas Highway 15 and Highway 166, that also commemorates the discovery of the helium well and construction of a helium plant that was built not long after the discovery of the gas.

You’ll find more information on the helium gas discovered in Dexter, Kansas, HERE.