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Oil is, and has always been, a major export of the city, and a major contributor to the national GDP. C.", was a leading businessman and oil tycoon in the city in the early 20th century, developing businesses during the Texas Oil Boom.An entrepreneur from Pennsylvania and Iowa, he arrived after the gusher at Spindletop, and invested in development of a commercial port in the city, and an irrigation system to support the local rice industry, as well as residential and retail development of suburban property. He purchased and donated First Baptist Church, whose congregation had moved to a new facility, to use as the city's first public library, now known as the Tyrrell Historical Library.In addition, Broussard founded a company to operate an irrigation system to support rice culture.

Beaumont's lumber boom, which reached its peak in the late 19th century, was stimulated by the rebuilding and expansion of the railroads in the state and region after the Civil War.The rise of Beaumont's mill economy drew many new residents to the city, many of them immigrants.Beaumont was a small center for cattle raisers and farmers in its early years.With an active riverport by the 1880s, it became an important lumber and rice-milling town. The Beaumont Rice Mill, founded in 1892 by Joseph Eloi Broussard, was the first commercially successful rice mill in Texas.Ultimately the white mob rioted for three days, destroying major black neighborhoods and killing five persons. The riot in Beaumont was one of several in 1943 which centered in the defense industry, including Los Angeles, as well as other cities across the country.

The wartime social disruption was similar to war time riots which had occurred in other parts of the country during and following World War I.

Recently, there has been some renewal in Downtown Beaumont and in other areas of the city.

In 1996, the Jefferson County courts, located in Beaumont, became the first court in the nation to implement electronic filing and service of court documents.

Spindletop became the first major oil field and one of the largest in American history.

With the discovery of oil at Spindletop, Beaumont's population more than tripled in two months from 9,000 in January 1901 to 30,000 in March 1901.

In the postwar years, Beaumont's port continued in importance.