Red Bluff is the county seat of Tehama County, California. As of the 2000 census, the incorporated city had a total population of 13,147, but it is currently (January 2007) estimated at 26,000 due to recent annexations.
The Nomlaki people originally inhabited the area along the banks of the Sacramento River where Red Bluff was built. Most of the native population of the area died in a malaria epidemic in the early 1830s.
The earliest Europeans known to have visited this area were the Spanish explorer Luis Argello in 1821, followed by Jedediah Smith in 1828. In 1843 Peter Lassen, John Bidwell, and John Burheim came in pursuit of horse thieves; Lassen then applied for a Mexican land grant. The first house where Red Bluff now is was an adobe put up late in 1849 by John Myers, who conducted it for a short time as a hotel. In the following spring Mr. Cooper erected a small adobe there, and William B. Ide built another at the "Adobe" Ferry, one mile (1.6 km) north. Settlement began in 1850 when Sashel Woods and Charles L. Wilson began laying out a town called Leodocia. It was known by that name and Covertsburg until 1854, when maps showed the community as Red Bluffs.
In 1851 Captain Ellbridge G. Reed built and started a hotel near where the creek now known as Reeds Creek enters the Sacramento River and conducted it with great success for years. Being at the head of navigation, Red Bluff soon forged ahead, and during the early mining excitements in the northern mines was a great staging town, and did an immense amount of transhipping and teaming of goods. It languished later on with the subsidence of activity in the mines, reviving again in the early 1870s on the advent of the railroad. In 1854 Red Bluff had a population of 1,000 people. In 1860 it had twice as many. On the organization of the county in 1856, there was a strong attempt to locate the county seat at Tehama, but in March, 1857, Red Bluff was chosen.
The city of Red Bluff was incorporated in 1876.
Red Bluff is located at . According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 19.6 km² (7.6 mi²). 19.2 km² (7.4 mi²) of it is land and 0.3 km² (0.1 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 1.59% water.(40.176640, -122.237951)
Red Bluff has cool, wet winters and hot, dry summers. Average temperatures in January are a maximum of 54.6°F and a minimum of 37.0°F. Average temperatures in July are a maximum of 115.0oF and a minimum of 65.6F. There are an average of 100.1 days annually with highs of 90°F (32°C) or higher and an average of 21.5 days with lows of 32°F (0°C) or lower. The record highest temperature was 121°F on August 7, 1981, and the record lowest temperature was 17°F on January 9, 1937. Annual precipitation averages 23.21 inches with measurable precipitation falling of an average of 71 days. The wettest year was 1983 with 52.98 inches and the dryest year was 1976 with 7.20 inches. The most rainfall in one month was 21.47 inches in January 1995 and the most rainfall in 24 hours was 3.55 inches on January 8, 1995. Snowfall averages 2.1 inches a year. The snowiest year was 1972 with 15.6 inches. The most snowfall in one month was 15.0 inches in January 1937.
As of the census of 2000, there were 13,147 people, 5,109 households, and 3,239 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,768.7 people per square mile (683.2/km²). There were 5,567 housing units at an average density of 748.9/sq mi (289.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 86.69% White, 0.62% Black, 2.24% Native American, 1.60% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 5.77% from other races, and 3.01% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 13.68% of the population.
There were 5,109 households out of which 36.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.4% were married couples living together, 16.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.6% were non-families. 30.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 3.07.
In the city the population was spread out with 28.7% under the age of 18, 9.9% from 18 to 24, 28.6% from 25 to 44, 18.0% from 45 to 64, and 14.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 90.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $27,029, and the median income for a family was $32,799. Males had a median income of $26,807 versus $21,048 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,060. About 17.7% of families and 21.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.6% of those under age 18 and 9.7% of those age 65 or over.