Beaumont, California A City of the San Gorgonio Pass
Incorporated on November 18, 1912, the city of Beaumont is located in Riverside County, California. Beaumont’s neighbor cities include Banning to the east, Calimesa to the west and the unincorporated community of Cherry Valley to the north. With an elevation of 2,500 - 3,000 feet above sea level, Beaumont is at the peak on the San Gorgonio Pass between San Bernardino, California and Palm Springs, California. A timeline has been created that represents the early history of Beaumont.
Local History Photographs
The Beaumont Library District has digitized about 200 photographs located within their local history collection. This took about a year to put together and, along with a Local History Digital Resources Project Grant and Califa group, the photographs are now capable of being viewed online. If there are some faces that you recognize in some of the photographs don’t hesitate to contact the library - we would be greatly interested to know!
Oral Histories of Beaumont
In August 2011 the Beaumont Library District celebrated its 100th anniversary. As a way to commemorate the knowledge and oral histories of prominent community members, the library contacted StoryCorps to record their stories.
According to their website, “StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 40,000 interviews from nearly 80,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind and millions listen to our weekly broadcasts on NPR’s Morning Edition.”
Four individuals from different generations participated in telling their stories.
The 1st interviewee was Blanche B. Fries (mp3). She had just turned 97 and was named the oldest citizen of Beaumont. She was born in Connecticut and moved to Beaumont with her husband. She passed away in 2015 at the age of 100.
The 2nd interviewee was Betty Meltzer (mp3). She moved to Beaumont as a young woman and attended the University of Redlands, just 20 minutes away. She is now a retired academician and high school teacher and has published several books on the San Gorgonio Pass.
The 3rd interviewee was Brian De Forge (mp3). He was born and raised in Beaumont and his family was has been involved in local politics. He was on the city council for many years and also served as the mayor of Beaumont.
The last interviewee was Mac McCabe (mp3). He started the San Gorgonio Pass Magazine which was distributed among the towns of the pass.
Glimpse of History
The Beaumont Unified School District has 10 schools within its city limits and 3 more in unincorporated Cherry Valley. This includes 2 high schools, 2 middle schools, and 6 elementary schools. High school attainment is higher, but college attainment is lower, than within the state as a whole. Beaumont has a smaller share of adults who have not completed high school - 16% compared with 20% statewide, but only 23% of adults have earned Bachelor’s degrees, compared with 30% statewide.
Interstate 10, a major east-west interstate highway, bisects the city with 6 interchanges in Beaumont. At present several new roads are being built in the western part of the city, including Potrero Boulevard, to relieve traffic congestion. New, improved freeway intersections are underway. Transit service is provided by Pass Transit, with regular services connecting with neighboring cities and regional transit operators. Dial-A-Ride service is available for senior and disabled riders. Air transportation is currently available from Ontario International Airport, 40 miles to the west, and Palm Springs International Airport, 35 miles to the east. The Banning Municipal Airport is 7 miles to the east and provides a convenient location for private planes. The Union Pacific Railroad Main Line runs east-west along the commercial and industrial zone of the city.
The city contains 13 parks, including a 20-acre sports park and a municipal pool, as well as an extensive trail system.
If you are looking for more information on the City of Beaumont, check out the City’s website.
- 1845: Pauline (Paulino, Powell) Weaver and Isaac “Julian” Williams, considered the first settlers at the Summit, applied to the Mexican governor, Pio Pico, to grant them the Johnson and San Gorgonio Ranch lands; however Williams and Weaver took possession of the land without ever receiving the legal papers for it and “their claim to the rancho was never accepted.” Thus their sale of land to various people and the subsequent sale to others was never legal. Weaver also appropriated the adobe that was located in what is now Cherry Valley near the intersection of Cherry Valley Boulevard and Beaumont Avenue.
- October 10, 1853: Drive. Isaac William Smith purchased Pauline Weaver’s third part of the San Gorgonio Rancho without realizing that “the deed from Weaver was defective” i.e. not valid. Most sources believe that the first family in the Pass was the Smith family who built a home at Highland Springs. Eventually, Smith’s Ranch became Smith’s Station, serving as a stage stop and offering lodging.
- December 18, 1859: Drive. William F. Edgar purchased Weaver’s “homeplace.”
- 1861: Edgar started to buy government land in what had been San Gorgonio Rancho.
- April 30, 1868: Drive. William F. Edgar purchased what was left of the San Gorgonio Rancho after it had gone through several “owners.”
- 1868: Edgar bought one-half of Weaver’s interest in the Rancho, establishing a farm and a winery nearby; Edgar Street in Beaumont is named for him.
- 1875: A red railroad depot and telegraph office were set up at the Summit.
- 1876: The first passenger train came through the Summit.
- August 21, 1879: A post office was established at the then Summit Southern Pacific railroad station as San Gorgonia (due to a spelling mistake in Washington) with Elijah Wesson acting as its first postmaster.
- May 23, 1881: The San Gorgonia post office was closed.
- 1883: Reznor Perry Stewart, founder of one of the most influential families in town, took a homestead in Beaumont; purchasing Southern Pacific Railroad land later, he established a 2,200 acre profitable ranch.
- 1884: George C. Egan bought land from the Southern Pacific Company around the company’s Summit station and established the town of San Gorgonio.
- April 14, 1884: The San Gorgonio (again due to a spelling error in Washington) post office was opened with Egan as its first postmaster.
- 1884: Egan built the first dry goods and grocery store with a post office, thus becoming the first postmaster. The Summit was becoming a town; Mr. Egan named it San Gorgonio and laid out its streets. Egan Avenue is named for him.
- 1884: Frank Mindler renovated the Beatty Boarding House and turned it into Beaumont’s first hotel, the Summit House.
- 1884: Smith’s Station was bought by a company; Veile, a member of the company opened it as the Highland Home Hotel - another venue to lure land buyers to the area.
- 1884: Drive. and Mrs. McCoy and Mr. Mrs. McMillan settled in town.
- 1884: Sunday school was organized with Drive. McCoy as Superintendent. After three months at an earlier location, the school was moved to the Edgar Vineyard.
- 1884: Congregationalist minister Guthrie started coming from Redlands every two weeks.
- 1885: United Presbyterian Church was built; it housed the first Beaumont school for two years.
- 1886: The Southern California Investment Company, headed by H.C. Sigler from Beaumont, Texas purchased Egan’s San Gorgonio town site, renamed the Beaumont (French for “beautiful mountain”) after Sigler’s Texas hometown and planted “eucalyptus, pepper and other shade trees along about 20 miles of streets.”
- September 8, 1886: The post office name to Beaumont became official.
- 1886: Mrs. M.M. Fisher opened Beaumont’s second hotel, the Del Paso.
- 1887: The name Beaumont was officially adopted.
- 1887: A larger train depot was built.
- 1887: The Southern Pacific Company changed the railroad station’s name officially to Beaumont.
- 1887: At that time Beaumont boasted two stores, a saloon, post office, livery stable, three hotels, grain warehouse, schoolhouse, and two churches.
- 1887: In an effort “to tract potential land buyers during the booming years” the Southern California Investment Co. built the beautiful and costly Beaumont Hotel, the third hotel in town.
- 1888: The boom bubble burst and the lender the German Savings and Loan Society of San Francisco took over the town. The Beaumont Hotel “stood unused for years.”
- 1905: A grammar school was built in Beaumont.
- 1907: Capitalists Kenneth Smoot and Claredon B. Eyer purchased most of Beaumont’s land and began developing it.
- 1908: Beaumont’s Gateway Gazette was founded.
- February 7, 1908: The Woman’s Club is organized, From the Club’s Preamble: “The ladies of Beaumont, in order to attain a broader culture which comes through service to others and with the object of advancing our common interests, do organize the Woman’s Club of Beaumont.” Article I, Section2: “The object of this Club shall be literary and social advancement, the study of art and the improvement of the home.”
- 1909: The First Bank of Beaumont was founded. The initiative for starting a Beaumont Library was taken by the Woman’s Club of Beaumont in January of 1909. The Club continued to be instruments in the establishment and building of the library.
- March 11, 1909: The Woman’s Club voted to open a reading room in Beaumont and appointed a five-member committee “to investigate the matter.”
- November 1909: The Woman’s Club raised $71 and collected 81 books by holding a Tag Day and an evening book party at which the guests dressed as characters of well-known books. The prize for recognizing the greatest number of characters was a book.
- August 12, 1911: The Gateway Gazette: “Beaumont township was made a library district by a two-to-one vote the result being 59 for and 27 against. Immediate steps will be taken to get a library underway.”
- August 30, 1911: The first library trustee meeting was held.
- September 1911: The library trustees appoint Mrs. C.J. Miner as the librarian at a salary of $25 per month. The Gateway Gazette reports, “The matter of literature for the reading room was taken up and order was placed for the following magazines and papers,” amongst them Literary Digest, Scientific American, Cosmopolitan, Saturday Evening Post, London News, and Chicago Record-Herald.
- October 1, 1911: Informal opening of the Beaumont Library District located in two rooms on the ground floor of the Beaumont Bank building on 5th and Grace streets, rented for $125 per year.
- October 26, 1911: Beaumont grain grower R.P. Stewart saw a large object in the sky and commented that it was too large to be a hawk. It proved to be a Wright Model B plane piloted by Carl Fowler, a contestant in the Hearst Trans-Continental Derby - a flight from New York to Los Angeles in 30 days for a prize of $50,000. The heavy winds in the Pass forced the pilot to land. To save it from further wind damage, Mr. Stewart chained the plane to a rail fence. People from Beaumont, Banning, and the surrounding area came to see it. In honor of the pilot the Stewart family threw a party for the entire community.
- 1912: Beaumont is incorporated.