Beaumont, a pictorial history, is a visual and educational journey that extols its Wild West past and imparts many of the unknown details that made the San Gorgonio Pass town the city it is today.
The book takes you on a trip from the Spanish mission and stagecoach days to a town of agriculture and commerce at the intersection of two major interstate transportation corridors and a railroad that links the desert southwest to the Pacific Ocean. The growth of Beaumont is displayed on each page with captioned black and white photos.
The San Gabriel mission first sent wagons through the pass to stock up on salt at the Salton Sea. The local Native American's came under the influence of the Spanish missions once they were established in the Los Angeles area.
The original stage routes that traveled up San Timoteo Canyon and reached the summit, about 2,500 feet, of the pass came to a place simply called the Summit. A beautiful location between two spectacular snow-covered mountain peaks over 10,000 feet high. It was the last outpost of Los Angeles. Time to rest and water the horses before chancing the dry heat of the Sonoran low desert on the way to Phoenix. The book mentions Wyatt Earp as being one of the stage coach drivers. In 10 years the 1860 stage coaches gave way to the, “iron horse.”
Land developers and speculators used the trains to bring potential customers to the rural Summit train station. With land changing hands and new developer ideas, hotels were built for the visitors and fruit orchards were planted by town fathers. These details are covered in the Early Beaumont Years section.
As Summit land boomed and changed hands the town was renamed San Gorgonio. Then again in the early twentieth century, another real estate boom, the name changed one last time to Beaumont, which means beautiful mountain in French. The city was incorporated in 1912.
With population growth and farming the need for water became an important issue. Water-well number one in the low valley didn't pan out. Well number two in Edgar Canyon hit pay dirt and the town had a steady supply of water for the new inhabitants.
The middle of the pictorial book shows the roads, ranches and businesses that became the early town's endeavors.
Beaumont grew at about 1,000 new residents per decade through the early and mid 1900s. The pictures tell the story as more homes, hotels, ranches, and new schools and banks grew with the young city. The first picture in the book is of the town's first post office. I had to laugh because it's not much different than today's post office on Beaumont Avenue.
Commerce slowly began to flourish. Pass fruit even won awards at the Chicago Worlds Fair for its beauty and flavor.
The city had many men with determination and vision along with the women that supported them to create a pleasant, community growing atmosphere. The Stewart and Bogart families were the most notable citizens of Beaumont's formative years. When Reznor Perry Stewart first came to California he landed in Hangtown, now Placerville, and met Kit Carson and Buffalo Bill. That is the type of historical nugget that makes a book like this so real and worthwhile. These visionaries are covered in detail in the final two sections of the book.
As noted economist Dr. John Husing recently stated at a Beaumont Chamber luncheon, “Dirt is money.” Beaumont has always had plenty of it. Land has never been scarce in the bedroom small town. The book makes reference to land sales, railroad trains and the search and development of water supplies throughout the 127 pages. It puts faces on the city founders and brings them to life.
The book of Beaumont is a fun, relaxing read that imparts gems of local history on every page. The various aspects of the community growth from the Wild West to the twenty-first century will fascinate readers young and old alike.
The photographs used in the publication came from local citizens, the San Gorgonio Pass Historical Society, the Laura May Stewart Foundation and the authors.
A book signing by the authors, Holtzclaw and Fox, will be held at the Beaumont Chamber of Commerce office. The date and time will be announced at a later date.
The book will go on sale Feb. 19 and be available in bookstores, independent retailers, online book stores, or through Arcadia Publishing at www.arcadiapublishing.com or (888) 313-2665. Two other similar books about the Pass Area are available from the same publisher. One focuses on Banning and the other looks at the entire San Gorgonio Pass Area.