Freight Cars - Helium Tank Car MHAX #1202
Type: Helium Tank Car.
Status: Unrestored, On display.
Acquisition Date: Donated by the Kennedy Space Center, July, 2002.
This high pressure, helium transportation tank car, carries reporting marks MHAX 1202 (United States, Department of the Interior, Helium Field Operations, Amarillo, Texas). This car was "purpose built" to transport helium from gas producing wells, mostly located in Amarillo, Texas, to various different consumers throughout the United States. Helium was considered a war regulated commodity until well into the 1970's, since the United States had the majority of the world's proven reserves. Until intense oil production became possible in the North Sea, off the European coast, helium was not widely available worldwide.
Although this car was built in 1962, it is identical to those which brought helium to the Naval Air Station, Richmond, located on this site, for use in the 25, non-rigid airships based here.
Most recently, this car was used at the Kennedy Space Center, at Cape Canaveral, Florida, for the transportation and storage of helium used in a wide variety of processes in space flight. The Gold Coast Railroad Museum's NASA #1, ALCO switcher, moved this car, along with others, at the Kennedy Space Center.
Very few of these cars were ever produced and were rarely seen by the public.
This car is rather short for a U.S. railcar. It is 45'02" (13,76 m) long, 12'11" (3,8 m) high and 10'02" (3,05 m) wide. The rated storage pressure for the tanks onboard this car was 3,000 PSI (143,7 Kpascals).