Inducted in 2015
Californian Vern F. Castro (1922-70) competed and won calf roping, team roping, steer roping, wild cow milking, and bulldogging championships across the West throughout the 1940s-50s “Golden Age” of American professional rodeo. A ranch-raised cowboy from San Pablo, California, Castro learned how to rope and wrestle steers as a youngster on his family’s ranch. Standing 5’ 9’ and weighing 195 lbs., he held RCA (Rodeo Cowboys Association, now PRCA) Card #358. Castro’s career, which included two world team roping titles, lasted from the late 1930s until he retired from competitive rodeo in 1957. He died unexpectedly in 1970, at 48-years of age.
Back in the days before the National Finals Rodeo, Vern Castro annually made the trek to New York City’s famed Madison Square Garden rodeo. His winning record is especially striking because he did not compete in rodeo fulltime. Castro devoted much of his energy to working his family’s 6th generation Spanish Land Grant ranch located between Richmond and Livermore, California.
In Ellensburg, Castro won the Steer Wrestling (’47), Wild Cow Milking (’48), and Calf Roping (’50). He won the Ellensburg All-Around three times—’47-8 and ’50—a feat that ties him with Jimmie Cooper and is surpassed only by Bill McMacken, Tom Ferguson, and Trevor Brazile.
Following his second Ellensburg All-Around title in 1948, the Ellensburg Daily Record reported that the smiling, black-haired California cowboy “distanced as classy a field of cowhands as Ellensburg ever drew to go away with the show’s top honors.” Because Castro twice won Ellensburg’s coveted Esmerelda Trophy (sponsored by the Spokane Athletic Round Table), he earned the right take it home.
As noted, Castro garnered two World Team Roping Championship titles, one in 1942 (a tie with his brother Vic) and one in 1955. Yet when asked to name his proudest moments in rodeo, Vern Castro recalled they were “winning the calf roping in Pendleton, Oregon in 1946, and winning the Esmerelda Trophy (All-Around Champion) at Ellensburg, Washington.” Vern Castro stands in the ranks of the greatest cowboys who have ever competed in the Ellensburg Rodeo.