Beaumont  (population 112,434) isn’t your average Texas mid-sized city. It’s more connected to the Eastern United States than other Southern communities, it’s a working-class union town (due to the propensity of oil riggers), and it has a denser historic downtown than its wide-open West Texas brethren. Its proximity to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast  along with its two nearby sister cities of Port Arthur  and Orange  have earned the area the nickname “the Cajun Triangle.”
The city’s (and state’s and country’s) fate was forever changed on the morning of January 10, 1901, when the Lucas Gusher erupted from the Spindletop oilfield. Tens of thousands of people flocked to Beaumont  to capitalize on the oil boom, and, in the process, built an impressive collection of churches, civic buildings, and residences. The impact on Beaumont  resulted in a true American melting pot, with Italian and Jewish influences combined with Cajun and African-American inspirations. The city’s architectural treasures remain an integral part of downtown’s distinctive historical charm.
Although the corporate oil scene would eventually move to nearby Houston  (about 90 miles to the southwest), Beaumont ’s petroleum-related legacy remains its true identity. In 1901, the first year of the boom, three major companies formed—the Gulf Oil Corporation, Humble (later Exxon), and the Texas Company (later Texaco). One year later, more than 500 Texas corporations were doing business in Beaumont .
However, the boom soon went bust, as Spindletop quickly fell victim to an overabundance of wells. Two decades later, new advancements in the oil industry allowed riggers to dig wells deeper, resulting in another Spindletop boom. In 1927, the oilfield yielded its all-time annual high of 21 million barrels.
The Beaumont  area never experienced another major surge, but the city had landed on the map, with corporations and families from across the country relocating to the region. During World War II the city prospered as a shipbuilding center, and the petrochemical industry continued to sustain the economy for decades to come.
Meanwhile, the nearby coastal communities of Port Arthur  and Orange  benefited from Beaumont ’s corporate and cultural activity. Although the oil money never made the Golden Triangle as prosperous as its name implies, the region benefited by opening several art museums, forging a soulful music identity, and capitalizing on its Cajun culture by developing fabulous food establishments.