Beaumont, Texas is situated on the banks of the Neches River in extreme southeastern Texas. It is home to approximately 115,000 residents and covers 85 square miles of flat, coastal plains. Interstate 10 runs through the heart of the city. Beaumont is located ninety miles to the east of Houston, Texas and twenty five miles to the west of Orange, Texas, which is located on the Texas/Louisiana border. Beaumont is thirty five miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico and some parts of the region border on Lake Sabine. Because of its close proximity to Interstate 10, Beaumont is a popular spot for travelers.
The city of Beaumont was founded in 1838 on fifty acres of riverbank that were part of an area called Tevis Bluff. The tract was purchased from settler Noah Tevis by a development company based in New Orleans. Over the next few years, through additional tract purchases and donations made by the Tevis family, Beaumont grew to 200 acres in size. Although it started out as a predominately log-built town with muddy roads, Beaumont continued to grow and expand during the following decades. Cattle and logging were two of the main industries in Beaumont until an active port was established in the city in the latter part of the century.
In 1892, a team of wealthy citizens formed the Gladys City Oil Company. The company prospected for oil and drilled endlessly for nearly ten years before they hit the famous Lucas Gusher in 1901 on Gladys Hill, located at the site of present-day Lamar University. The Lucas Gusher shot oil into the sky for nine days before the company was able to cap the gusher. The discovery of oil caused the town’s population to more than double in size from 9,000 in 1901 to over 20,000 by 1903.
The majority of Beaumont’s attractions are preserved relics from its former boom town days. Gladys City, located on the original site of the Lucas Gusher, is a replica of what the oil town looked like at the time of the discovery. The McFaddin-Ward House, now a museum, showcases what life was like for one predominate family in Beaumont over the course of seventy five years. The John Jay French Museum is also a former home. Its rugged style shows visitors what life was like in the very early days of the city. The Fire Museum is home to the world’s largest fire hydrant, which is painted with spots in the style of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians.
Today, Beaumont remains a town bustling with commerce and development. The newly constructed Ford Park is an entertainment and business complex that is comprised of an amphitheater, exhibit hall, pavilion, and ice hockey rink. The rink is home to the city’s hockey team - The Beaumont Drillers. Ford Park is also the site of major music events, business conventions, and the South Texas State Fair. The Port of Beaumont consistently ranks in the top five ports in the country. Beaumont has over fifteen radio stations, two newspapers, and three television stations. Beaumont is also the location of the headquarters of several major businesses, including Conn’s Appliance Company and the Texas Coffee Company.