The city of Rodeo is a quaint city with a culturally rich and diverse community.  Rodeo is not only a unique place to visit but also to live. The area has plenty of history and sense of place. The population of Rodeo is approximately 9,648.  Rodeo is part of Contra Costa County which is located on the east side of the San Francisco Bay.

A Rich History

Rodeo lies within the historic Spanish land grant called El Rancho de Pinole, owned by Don Ignacio Martinez, the former comandante of the pueblo of San Francisco.  Rodeo owes much of its history to Irish-born brothers John and Patrick Tormey who in 1865 purchased 7,000 acres of land from Don Ignacio Martinez Rancho El Pinole estate.

They became successful ranchers and businessmen, amassed sizable fortunes and held public office. Patrick Tormey (for whom the nearby town of Tormey is named) had visions of this area of Contra Costa County becoming the meatpacking and canning center of the Pacific coast.

In 1890, Patrick sold 1,500 acres of the land to the Union Stock Yard Company and began to lay out plans and make large investments for the stockyard facilities. Eventually, streets were graded and lots were prepared for homesteads, thus creating the town of Rodeo.

Patrick Tormey also sold land in the nearby town of Oleum to the California Lumber Co. for use as a lumberyard (which eventually would be sold to the Union Oil Co. for an oil refinery site). He also sold land in nearby Selby, which was used by the Selby Smelting & Lead Co. He funded the meatpacking plant, corrals and the Rodeo Hotel.

On April 9, 1892, a few weeks after the filing of the official town map at the county recorder’s office, the Rodeo post office was established.

Industrial development grew in and around Rodeo.  Both Plaster Products and Western Oil established plants at the Rodeo waterfront.  A powder works located in Pinole and Hercules, a smelter at Selby, and a sugar refinery in Crockett.  In 1896, Union Oil built a refinery; it became a major source of employment for Rodeo residents and is closely identified with the town itself.

Today Rodeo looks forward to a future that includes a new beginning of downtown and a revitalized waterfront.


The John Swett Unified School District office is located at 400 Parker Avenue in Rodeo.

The Rodeo Library of the Contra Costa County Library is located at 220 Pacific Avenue in Rodeo.

Famous Residents

Rodeo was the hometown of the following:

  • Billie Joe Armstrong (guitar, vocals)
  • Mike Dirnt (bass) of Green Day
  • Lefty Gomez, Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher for the New York Yankees (active 1930-1943)
  • Eric the Actor of the Howard Stern Show