At the request of the ministry of War and Marine, Gral Julio Argentino Roca, lieutenant colonel Lorenzo Vinter, chief of Regimiento 5ª de Caballería, settled in the spot called Fisque Menuco on the 1st September 1879, a fort that received the name Fuerte General Roca.
Five years later the measuring of farms and lots was carried out, and they passed from military occupation to agriculture. An irrigation channel starting in river Neuquén was finished. It was called Canal de los Milicos because it was excavated by soldiers, convicts and indians from Fuerte General Roca.
At that time also arrived to the region a group of German and French immigrants who settled near the fort.
The fort was a supply center to different places in Neuquén and Río Negro, for what they used caravans.
The big flood in 1899 made the Cooperativa de Irrigación reconstruct and modify the irrigation channel in 1907, to incorporate it to the national irrigation net in 1921.
The flood also affected the city of Viedma, which was destroyed, so the capital was transferred from the territory of Choele Choel and Fuerte General Roca, where only the columns of Villegas square and Colegio Salesiano San Miguel were left standing, while the population, helped by the military, had to shelter in the highest area of the plateau to the north of Stefenelli, in a spot called "El Campamento", where today there is a neighbourhood.
The village was reconstructed five kilometers to the west of the original location by order of Colonel Rohde, and by the beginning of 1900 there were 200 houses.
The initial train station was called Río Negro, then Los Perales, and then Padre Alejandro Stefenelli. At first it was built in a place abandoned by the flood, but in 1931, the present train station was built, and the previous one was left for cargo.
By 1910, the fruit activity expanded to three colonies neighbouring General Roca.
At the beginning of 1912, the first town authorities were elected, being the first mayor Mr. Alfredo Viterbori.
By then, Mr. Fernando Rajneri founded Diario Río Negro, considered the most important newspaper in Patagonia, still in vogue.
The outstanding cultural activity of General Roca started with the foundation of the public library Biblioteca Popular Julio A. Roca in 1936, Colegio Nacional de Enseñanza Srecundaria in 1942, and the regional museum Lorenzo Vintter in 1949.
Finally, in 1972, La Casa de la Cultura was created, an important cultural and artistic center.
Today the city has some 100.000 inhabitants on a surface of 14.200 has.