During the early 1850s, many surveying parties passed through the vicinity of present-day Beaumont in search of a pass that would connect the east to the Pacific Ocean. The San Gorgonio Pass was discovered in 1853 by a surveying expedition under Lieutenant R.S. Williamson, who was sent by the United States government. Its discovery enthralled many who now saw that connecting to the ocean was a feasible measure and led to plans for connecting a railway from the Missouri River to the Pacific. By the early 1860s, the Southern Pacific Railroad had laid tracks through the modern-day location of Beaumont. At the summit of the pass, a site was founded and named Edgar Station after a physician from one of the original expedition parties. Edgar Station served as a rest stop for railway travelers from the Mojave Desert on their way to the Los Angeles vicinity. Soon Edgar Station changed its name to San Gorgonio, named by a real estate development company, and it gradually attracted permanent residents.
The sleepy town of San Gorgonio became an incorporated city on November 18, 1912, and adopted its current name of Beaumont (French for "beautiful mountain"). As of 1927, the small city had a population of 857 with five churches, a public library, a bank, a high school, two local newspapers, several lumber yards, commercial packing houses, and a dehydrating plant. The city, one of Riverside County's largest apple growers, was dubbed "the land of the big red apple" by local residents in its early years. Apple orchards in the area expanded to a $200,000 industry by 1930. Beaumont saw a rise in visitors and residents as the nearby city of Palm Springs grew to become a highly popular resort spot during and after the 1930s; Beaumont followed suit and attempted to capitalize on the increasing tourism by establishing guest ranches. According to an early 1930s/1940s postcard, the Highland Springs Guest Ranch of Beaumont offered its patrons horseback riding, tennis, archery, horseshoes, swimming, shuffle-board, ping pong, baseball, ballroom dancing, massages, basketball, and lodging accommodations.
During the Cold War, a Lockheed rocket test site operated by Simi Valley-based Rocketdyne was established south of the town in Potrero Canyon. In late 2003, the majority of the Potrero Canyon site was sold to the state of California. Toxic chemicals used in rocket fuel and site test activities have been found in the soil and groundwater at the site, and planning is underway to begin cleanup sometime in the next few years. Plans are being developed by the California Department of Fish and Game to allow public access.
With the housing boom in the early decade, the urban sprawl reached the last remaining valleys of the Inland Empire. Since 2000, with Beaumont's proximity to Los Angeles, various Southern California residents have moved to the San Gorgonio Pass region for its low housing cost, causing a 20% jump in the city's population, making it the fastest growing city in the state. This has concerned many local residents who cite increasing student population in schools, rising demand on the water supply, and increasing traffic through the city on Interstate 10 in both directions. A 2008 study by the Public Policy Institute of California noted that Beaumont and its neighboring communities in the nearby San Jacinto Valley have registered the highest population growth throughout Riverside County and that the region was projected to increase by 4.5% a year to 310,000 by 2015.
Beaumont is home to many master-planned communities. The following communities are currently under construction or have been built: Oak Valley Greens, Three Rings Ranch, Solera by Del Webb (later sold to Pulte Homes Inc.), Sundance and Tournament Hills by Pardee Homes, and Fairway Canyon. Except for Oak Valley Greens, these communities operate under HOAs and are similar to developments in Redlands, Rancho Cucamonga, and some Orange County suburbs. Several big box stores have opened in town including Walmart, The Home Depot, and Kohl's, all located in the 2nd Street Marketplace. Other major businesses in the 2nd Street Marketplace area include Best Buy, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Petco, ALDI, Ross Dress for Less, Dollar Tree, Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo, Chili's, McDonald's, Starbucks, and Taco Bell. Beaumont also features a new Walgreens, Rite-Aid, and a Stater Bros. grocery store.
The nearby Highland Springs Resort, established in 1884, hosts Southern California's largest certified organic lavender farm at 123 Farm, the Annual Lavender Festival in June, the Annual Sausage and Beer Festival in August, and the Annual Olive & Wine Faire in October. Beaumont is home to the Annual Cherry Festival, which celebrated its 100th anniversary from May 31 to June 3, 2018.
Local recreational possibilities include two golf courses: the Tukwet Canyon and Oak Valley Golf Clubs.