History & Overview
Chosen by fortune for glory, the world first knew Beaumont through Spindletop, the oil field that proved petroleum could be found in quantities to supply the world. The technology, industry and commerce that followed the petroleum bonanza grew and diversified until today. Traces of those days of great oil wealth remain in Beaumont's abundance of elegant homes, dedication to the performing arts, plethora of museums, eminent hospitals and a university system working in partnership with industry. And just for the fun of it, Beaumont residents at play have the Big Thicket National Preserve, fresh and saltwater lakes, and Texas Gulf Coast beaches within a short distance.
That Wildcatter Spirit
The first visitors to the region were fur trappers from France and Spain in the early 1800s. Beaumont was established in 1835 along the banks of the Neches River, ten years before Texas gained U.S. statehood. The Third Congress of the Republic of Texas chartered Beaumont on Dec. 16, 1838, and the city soon became a lumber, cattle and timber town and the economic center of East Texas.
In 1892, the Gladys City Company was formed to drill for oil on the city's south side. Beaumont became of age Jan. 10, 1901, when the first great oil well in the world - the Anthony F. Lucas Gusher - blew in at Spindletop. At the turn of the century, the population was 8,500. Within 30 days after the discovery of oil at Spindletop, the population exploded to 30,000 people.
Along with discovery came the nation's industrial age and 600 oil companies, including petrochemical giants Guffey Petroleum Co. (Gulf, now Chevron), the Texas Co. (now Texaco/Star Enterprises), Standard Oil (Exxon) and Magnolia Petroleum Co. (Mobil), which has merged into Exxon Mobil. Beaumont grew from a city of 10,000 before the boom to 50,000 by 1903.
Today, Beaumont is the region's largest city with a population of 118,000, and the seat of Jefferson County. It is a natural and cultural crossroads rich in history and offering the best of many worlds to visitors. Feature attractions include Gator Country Adventure Park, Spindletop/Gladys City Boomtown Museum, the McFaddin-Ward House, Downtown Beaumont Museum & Entertainment District, Texas Energy Museum, Lamar University and Tyrrell Park.
Museums & Attractions
Commonly referred to as the "Museum Capital of Texas," Beaumont is peppered with museums specializing in everything from the great female sports legend Babe Didrikson Zaharias to the work of firefighters with the Fire Museum of Texas, home of the original world's largest fire hydrant. The gusher that changed the world first began by spreading prosperity throughout the families and residents of Beaumont. The Spindletop/Gladys City Boomtown Museum is a replica of the town that developed shortly after the famous Lucas Gusher erupted in 1901. The museum is complete with historical equipment and a gushing oil well. The Texas Energy Museum also highlights the oil and gas industry with educational storytelling and robotic characters that speak of early oil-field life.
The McFaddin Ward House, built in 1906, takes visitors back to a period of debutantes, timeless beauty and grace. The house remains virtually unchanged since its construction and contains many original furnishings and other alluring collectibles. This historical home offers an intimate look into the life of a family who accumulated considerable wealth in the business of cattle, rice farming, milling and the famous oil industry.
Legends Made Here
Many famous people have called Beaumont their hometown. Such legends include J. P. Richardson (The Big Bopper), Janis Joplin, artist Robert Rauschenberg and country music stars Mark Chesnutt and Clay Walker. The region is the birthplace of music legends George Jones, J.P. Richardson and Tracy Byrd, as well as the world's greatest female athlete, Babe Didrikson Zaharias.
A Natural Attraction
Outdoor lovers seek the natural pleasures of Village Creek, a hotspot for canoeing, fishing, birding and the internationally renowned Big Thicket National Preserve. Cattail Marsh, Pleasure Island, Sea Rim State Park and High Island are home to countless bird species and wildlife. Visitors worldwide who are interested in birding, fishing or crabbing flock to the area year-round. Boating, hunting, swimming and various outdoor activities provide year-round entertainment for guests and locals.
Beaumont and the Southeast Texas region are famous for eclectic cuisine. Bordered by Louisiana, Beaumont enjoys Cajun influences mixed with tasty Tex Mex and savory Southeast Texas tradition. Local restaurants feature favorites such as barbecue crabs, boudain, crawfish, seafood gumbo, dock fresh Gulf seafood, legendary pork sandwiches, smoked barbecue brisket and much more.
Because Beaumont is a hub city, visitors have plenty of transportation options and can arrive via highway, air, rail or even water. Beaumont is conveniently located on Interstate 10, just 90 miles from Houston, 280 miles from San Antonio, 25 miles from the Louisiana border, 260 miles from New Orleans and approximately 35 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico. Area maps help visitors easily navigate their way around town. American Eagle Airlines serves the Jack Brooks Regional Airport (BPT), with worldwide connections available through Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW). For train transportation, Beaumont is on the Sunset Limited Amtrak line that travels from New Orleans to Los Angeles.
Industries & Agriculture
Located along the banks of the Neches River, the area is a natural resource basin producing oil, gas and salt. A healthy agricultural economy includes rice, soybean, blueberries, crawfish, wheat, grain sorghum and livestock. In addition to having one of the world's largest refining and petrochemical complexes, The Port of Beaumont ranks No. 4 in the United States in total ship tonnage handled. Other industries include shipyards, lumber, pulp and paper mills, and rice mills. Beaumont has also become a source of sophisticated medical instruments and precision industrial equipment. Learn more about the Beaumont community, including local colleges & universities.