In 1892, Joseph Eloi Broussard opened the first commercially successful rice mill in the state, stimulating development of rice farming in the area; he also started an irrigation company (since 1933 established as the Lower Neches Valley Authority) to support rice culture.
Rice became an important commodity crop in Texas, and is now cultivated in 23 counties.
When the city became a major center for defense shipbuilding during World War II, tens of thousands of rural Texans migrated there for the new high-paying jobs.
The Roosevelt administration ordered the defense industry to be integrated, and many Southern whites were working closely with blacks for the first time.
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.
The area rapidly developed as one of the major petro-chemical refining areas in the country.