Port of Beaumont

Beaumont, the county seat of Jefferson County, is in the northeast part of the county on the west bank of the Neches River and Interstate Highway 10, eighty-five miles east of Houston and twenty-five air miles north of the Gulf of Mexico. With nearby Port Arthur and Orange, it forms the Golden Triangle, a major industrial area on the Gulf Coast. 

Beaumont developed around the farm of Noah and Nancy Tevis, who settled on the Neches in 1824. The small community that grew up around the farm was known as Tevis Bluff or Neches River Settlement. Together with the nearby community of Santa Anna, it became the townsite for Beaumont when, in 1835, Henry Millard and partners Joseph Pulsifer and Thomas B. Huling began planning a town on land purchased from the Tevises. The most credible account of how the town was named is that Millard gave it his wife's maiden name, Beaumont. 

At Millard's urging, the First Congress of the Republic of Texas made Beaumont the seat of the newly formed Jefferson County and granted it a charter in 1838. Under a second charter a municipal government was organized in 1840, but it was soon abandoned. Another attempt at municipal government in 1860 was short-lived. Continuous municipal government dates from incorporation under a general statute in 1881. Beaumont was a small center for cattle raisers and farmers in its early years.  

With an active riverport by the late 1800s, it became an important lumber and rice-milling town. The Beaumont Rice Mill, founded in 1892, was the first commercial rice mill in Texas. Beaumont's lumber boom, which reached its peak in the late 1800s, was due in large part to the rebuilding and expansion of the railroads after the Civil War. By the early 1900s the city was served by the Southern Pacific, Kansas City Southern, Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe, and Missouri Pacific railroad systems. The population grew from 3,296 in 1890 to 9,427 in 1900.

The Spindletop oil gusher of 1901 produced a boom that left Beaumont with a doubled population (20,640 in 1910), great wealth, and a petroleum-based economy that expanded as refineries and pipelines were built and new fields discovered nearby. Three major oil companies—the Texas Company (later Texaco), Gulf Oil Corporation, and Humble, (later Exxon), were formed in Beaumont during the first year of the boom. The Magnolia Refinery (Mobil Oil Company) became the city's largest employer; by 1980 it was Mobil's largest manufacturing plant. Discovery of a new oilfield at Spindletop in 1925 brought another burst of growth. The population of Beaumont was 40,422 in 1920 and 57,732 in 1930. 

This era also had its darker side: in the 1920s the Ku Klux Klan gained strength in Beaumont, and from 1922 to 1924 it controlled local politics. By the end of the 1920s, however, it had lost much of its membership and consequently its power. Though stagnant through the Great Depression, Beaumont's economy prospered during World War II with shipbuilding and oil refining. With the new boom came overcrowding, which may have contributed to the Beaumont race riot of 1943, in which interracial violence led to the declaration of martial law and the virtual shut-down of the city in June.

Beaumont's economy grew with petrochemicals and synthetic rubber in the post-war era and reached a plateau about 1960, when the growth slowed. In the mid-1950s the city, which had been segregated since Reconstruction, saw the civil rights movement begin to gain momentum, as the local chapter of the NAACP won two consecutive desegregation suits, one of them at Lamar State College. In the early 1960s an inquiry by the General Investigating Committee of the Texas House of Representatives resulted in three days of public hearings on Beaumont's illegal prostitution and gambling district, a boomtown byproduct; the police department was subsequently reorganized. Beaumont had 94,014 residents in 1950 and 119,175 in 1960; by 1964 it was the sixth-largest city in Texas. By 1970 its population had fallen to 115,919, in part because of the automation of the petrochemical industry that had begun in the early 1960s. Though by 1980 Beaumont's population had risen to 118,102, the city had fallen to the twelfth-largest in the state. The 1980 population was 61.2 percent white and 36.6 percent black and included large Italian and Cajun and small Hispanic and Asian elements.

The Oaks Historic District is the first area within the city of Beaumont recognized for its historic architecture. It is Beaumont's only historic district and is among the largest in Texas. The northern portion of the District is located between McFaddin and Beech Streets and First and Eleventh Streets. The southern portion is located between Broadway and Smart and First, Fourth and Eleventh Streets. This entire area is sometimes referred to as "Old Town." 

In the early 1980s major cultural organizations included a symphony orchestra, a civic opera, a ballet, several art museums, and a community playhouse.

Under its present charter (1947) Beaumont has a council-manager government. The Ninth Court of Civil Appeals, the federal district court, and the Lower Neches Valley Authority are located in Beaumont. Jefferson County Airport in Nederland provides the area with commuter and general aviation facilities; Beaumont is also served by its own municipal airport. 

Beginning in the early 1980s the Beaumont area, because of its reliance on the depressed heavy-industry and petrochemical markets, became the slowest-growing in the state and consistently had the highest unemployment on the Texas Gulf Coast. In 1990 Beaumont had a population of 114,323, and the early 1990s witnessed a number of important revitalization projects in the downtown area. By 2000 the population fell to 113,866.

Governing Structure

The City of Beaumont is a Council-Manager form of government. Elections are held for all Council members on odd years, with the Mayor and Council members each serving two-year terms. All powers of the City are vested in the Council, which enacts local legislation, adopts budgets and determines policies. Council is also responsible for appointing the City Attorney, the City Clerk and Magistrates, and the City Manager.


According to the 2005-2009 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, the City of Beaumont has a total population of 109,851 with 42.6% white, 47.9 African-American, and 3.1% Asian. Only 10.4% of the population is Hispanic. The median family income for 2009 was $49,766 with 17.6% of families below the poverty level. Eight percent of the population is under the age of five and 12% are over age 65. There are 63.3% residents in the labor force 16 years of age and older. The ratio of homeowner to renters is 56.5:43.5.

Access to health – hospitals, clinics, types of practitioners, health issues

Medical facilities include one neurological and three general hospitals, the Christus Hospital St. Elizabeth, Memorial Hermann Baptist Hospital, and the William Beaumont Army Medical Center.

St. Elizabeth’s is a 434-bed health care facility and the largest hospital between Houston and Baton Rouge. It is designated as the only Level III Trauma Center in the area.

Memorial Hermann Hospital is a short term acute care hospital with 376 beds. 

William Beaumont Army Medical Center provides care for military personnel and their eligible family members  and serves as a trauma center for the surrounding community.

Educational districts- name, number of students, levels

Lamar University 

With more than 14,000 students, Lamar University , a 270-acre campus, is one of the fastest growing universities in Texas and is a member of The Texas State University System.  LU offers more than 100 programs of study leading to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. http://www.lamar.edu/about-lu

Beaumont ISD

The Beaumont Independent School District was established in 1983 through the merger of the former Beaumont School District (founded in 1883) with the South Park Public Schools (founded in 1891). The district has a history of interracial tension from the earliest days to desegregation to the present.  Today the ISD has thirty-one schools with nearly 20,000 students. Sixty-five percent of the students are African-American, 16% white, 16% Hispanic and 4% other.  Seventy percent of the entire student population is considered economically disadvantaged. http://www.beaumont.k12.tx.us/history.pdf and


Media outlets- contact

In 1985 Beaumont had one newspaper, the Beaumont Enterprise, two television stations, and several local radio stations. Today Beaumont has three newspapers, the Enterprise and Examiner; four television stations and  eleven AM and FM radio stations.


The Neches River

The Neches River basin has long been the site of human habitation. Archeological excavations have discovered evidence of all stages of southeastern Indian development, beginning with the 12,000-year-old Clovis culture. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the upper Neches River basin was the site of intensive logging, and numerous sawmills were built along the banks of the river and its tributaries. Downstream, the broad Neches floodplain became the site of intensive rice culture during the early 1900s. 

After the Spindletop boom of 1901, the Neches basin also became the site of large-scale oil exploration. The growth of the oil industry led to the development of the Beaumont-Port Arthur-Orange metropolitan area as a major site for oil refining, processing, and shipping.

As a consequence of these developments, the once clean waters of the Neches have become increasingly polluted. Because more than 75 percent of the drainage area of the upper Neches River is forested, decaying vegetation produces natural pollution. Oil refineries and chemical plants have discharged ammonia, phenol, sulfides, heavy metals such as zinc and lead, and other chemicals into the river. Straightening and deepening of the lower reaches of the river to improve navigation have allowed salt water to back up into the estuary. Upstream diversions, particularly during the rice-growing season, resulted in the lower reach of the river being frequently composed entirely of treated municipal and industrial effluent. 

By the early 1970s more than 284,000 pounds of waste were being dumped in the river every day. Subsequently, efforts were made to clean up the stream. An areawide water-quality management plan was adopted for the Beaumont-Port Arthur-Orange area. But in the early 1990s the pollution problem continued, especially in the river's lower reaches.

In 2007, the census bureau estimated the population of the 14 Neches River Basin counties at 1,031,864 people.  The Neches River flows through a predominantly rural landscape. Approximately 56% of the population living within the Neches River Basin resides in two major metropolitan areas of Texas: the Beaumont-Port Arthur and the Tyler metropolitan statistical areas.  

Currently there is an alert issued by the Texas Parks and Wildlife for Neches River and all contiguous waters in Angelina, Hardin, Houston, Jasper, Polk, Trinity and Tyler counties an alert for the chemical mercury for consumption of flathead catfish, freshwater drum, gar, largemouth bass, spotted bass and white bass. 

Beaumont Salt Water Barrier 
Because of the Neches River's closeness to the Gulf of Mexico and its 40 foot dredged depth to support area ports, salt water has a relatively unimpeded avenue for upstream movement of Gulf salt water.  Jefferson, Hardin, and Tyler Counties' Lower Neches Valley Authority (LNV A) distributes fresh water to municipal, industrial and agricultural water consumers through its five major pumping plants and 400 miles of canals. 

The Beaumont-Port Arthur complex is one of the world's largest petroleum and petrochemical centers with more than 26 industries employing a large portion of the local workforce and using 45% of the LNV A's water. There are no other reliable sources of water for this industry and these companies cannot accept water with more than 150 PPM of chloride and/or 250 PPM for cooling. This factor all but eliminates extensive use of local ground water to meet needs. Resin production requires high quality and this are produces about 70% of the resins used for plastic made in the United State.

From 1934-1993 temporary saltwater barriers were installed in 26 of the years. A permanent barrier’s cost was estimated at $74.7 million by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers showing a clear benefit.  In 2003, a saltwater barrier was completed about eight miles north of Beaumont. The barrier, with its adjustable gates, keeps salt water from moving up the river during periods of low flows.


Port of Beaumont

Situated 84 miles east of Houston and 270 miles west of New Orleans, the Port of Beaumont is accessible from the Gulf of Mexico and Intracoastal Waterway via the federally maintained Sabine-Neches Ship Channel, 42 miles upstream from the Gulf. The Sabine-Neches Channel is a minimum of 400 feet wide and maintained at a depth of 40 feet. Air draft is 136 feet. The Intracoastal Waterway and Mississippi River connect Beaumont with a vast inland waterway system serving such cities as Minneapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Louisville, Omaha and Memphis.

The 51st Texas Legislature created the Port of Beaumont in 1949 as a political body and governmental entity of the State of Texas. Its history as a deepwater port dates to 1908 when it became a major seaport after the Neches was channelized to Port Arthur in 1908. In 1916, the channel was deepened to 25 feet and a turning basin scooped out in the bend of the river. Local businessmen, meanwhile, had developed dock facilities on the waterfront. The port channel was deepened to 30 feet in 1922, increasing Beaumont's importance as a shipping center. In the 1940s, the port reached its current depth of 40 feet. 

The Port of Beaumont Navigation District covers an area of about 150 square miles, including the City of Beaumont. Three major rail carriers, five major roadways, the Intracoastal Waterway and global steamship lines feed into the Port of Beaumont.


Governing body

Port of Beaumont is a navigation district and political subdivision of the State of Texas. The port is governed by six commissioners, elected on staggered six-year terms by voters in the district.        

Service area

Midwest and Western United States, Texas, Mexico and Canada

Principal trading partners

Brazil, Canada, Iraq, Russia, China, Chile, Peru, Norway and Nigeria

Principal activities include import and export breakbulk and bulk cargo, with emphasis on forest products, agricultural commodities, aggregate, ash products, project and military cargo.  Beaumont is a strategic military port, and also has layberths for Maritime Administration ships.

2009 Tonnage

67,715,469 tons 

Foreign exports 6,413,414 tons

Foreign imports    36,873,234 tons 

All domestic      24,428,821 tons

All cargo

56.9%     crude

29.9%     petroleum products

2.1%     food

7.47%     chemicals

.06%    wood

Ranking among US ports

Port of Beaumont ranks #7 of the top 150 U.S. Ports.

Principal activities and products- imports and exports

Imports: Forest products, aggregate, military cargo, steel, project cargo

Exports: Bulk grain, potash, forest products, military cargo, project cargo

Major industries

Goodyear Tire and Rubber

Exxon/Mobil Oil Refinery

LNVA – North Regional Treatment Plant


 Environmental Quality/ Monitors / Contamination remediation

Air, water, and soil quality

Beaumont –Port Arthur region is non-attainment for ozone.

Benzene and sulfur dioxide at the former Carroll Street Park were removed from the watch list in 2008.

Air monitors, placement

Downtown Lamar, VOCs, 24 hr and auto-GC

PM2.5 measured at 414 Mary St monitor

Contaminated sites

International  Creosoting, a former wood treatment facility in Beaumont is currently under remediation for arsenic, chromium, lead, creosote constituents, semi-volatiles and VOCs in the groundwater, sediments, soil, and surface water.