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Loving County, Texas
Map of Texas highlighting Loving County
Location in the state of Texas
Map of USA TX
Texas's location in the U.S.
Founded 1931
Seat Mentone
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

677 sq mi (1,753 km²)
673 sq mi (1,743 km²)
4 sq mi (10 km²), 0.56%
 - (2000)
 - Density

8/sq mi (003/km²)

Loving County is a county in the U.S. state of Texas, and is the least populous county in the entire United States. Its seat, and only community, is Mentone. The nearest sizable towns are Pecos, and Carlsbad.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Loving County has a total area of 1,753 km² (677 sq mi). 1,743 km² (673 sq mi) of it is land and 10 km² (4 sq mi) of it (0.56%) is water.

The Pecos River is the county's western boundary, forming the Red Bluff Reservoir along its northwestern border with Reeves County and Eddy County. The terrain of Loving County is described as flat desert, with a few low hills. Desert shrubs, range grass and cactus abound, with salt cedars along the river. Elevations vary from 2,686 to 3,311 feet above sea level.

Loving is the smallest county by area in the Permian Basin region.

Major HighwaysEdit

These are the only through-routes in Loving County.

Adjacent countiesEdit


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1890 3
1900 33 1,000.0%
1910 249 654.5%
1920 82 −67.1%
1930 195 137.8%
1940 285 46.2%
1950 227 −20.4%
1960 226 −0.4%
1970 164 −27.4%
1980 91 −44.5%
1990 107 17.6%
2000 67 −37.4%

As of the census of 2000, there were 67 people, 31 households, and 19 families living in the county. The population density was 0.03/km² (0.1/sq mi). There were 70 housing units at an average density of 0.04/km² (0.1/sq mi). Of the 67 residents, 60 persons identified themselves as White, no person identified themselves as Black, African American, Native American, Asian, or Pacific Islander. 6 identified themselves as "some other race", and 1 person identified him or herself as belonging to two or more races. In addition, 7 people identified themselves as being of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin of any race.

There were 31 households out of which 5 have children under the age of 18 living with them, 17 are married couples living together, 2 have a female householder with no husband present, and 11 are non-families. Ten households are made up of individuals and 2 consist of someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. Average household size was 2.16, while the average family size was 2.65.

In the county, the population was spread out with 13 people under the age of 18, one between 18 and 24, 18 from 25 to 44, 24 from 45 to 64, and 11 who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 10 females there are 11.61 males. For every 10 females age 18 and over, there are 12.50 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $40,000, and the median income for a family was $53,750. Males had a median income of $25,833 versus $0 for females. The per capita income for the county was $24,084.

Loving County's population has been rapidly declining in recent years, with a decline of over 35% between 1990 and 2000, and another 22% of its population between 2000 and 2004.

Loving County is the only county in the United States with no persons below the poverty line as of 2000. [1] Its economy is based almost entirely upon oil and gas drilling, ranching, and county services.

The county is also the least densely populated county in the nation[1] with a 2006 county-wide population estimate of 60, according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.


Prehistorically, the area had many springs with drinkable water that supported wildlife and nomadic hunters. Antonio de Espejo visited the area in 1583 and crossed the Pecos River. John Pope surveyed the area in 1854 for a railroad company, and returned in 1855 to start a camp in northwestern Loving County and establish artesian wells in the area, however the venture was unsuccessful and was abandoned in 1861.

From 1837 to 1874 the area of Loving County was part of the Bexar land district. In 1874 it was separated from Bexar County as a part of Tom Green County.

Loving County is named for Oliver Loving, a cattle rancher and pioneer of the cattle drive who together with Charles Goodnight developed the Goodnight-Loving Trail. He was mortally wounded by Comanches while on a cattle drive in 1867 in the vicinity of the county.

Loving is the only county in Texas to be incorporated twice, first in 1893 and then once more in 1931. Its initial organization was effected by a canal company founded in Denver, Colorado, and appears to have been based upon fraud and willful misrepresentations made by the founders to state officials. [2] After a local landowner hired a New York firm to investigate alleged improprieties in county government, the company's organizers fled, taking with them all the county records. The state legislature subsequently disorganized Loving in 1897, attaching it to Reeves County.

Oil was discovered in 1921, leading to a population increase in Loving County. By 1930 there were 195 residents, mostly living in what would become the town of Mentone, which became the county seat when Loving was reconstituted in 1931. By 1933, the population had peaked at 600, only to enter a steady decline to the present day.

Loving County firstsEdit

Loving County was the home of the first elected female sheriff in Texas, Edna Reed Claton Dewees. Ms. Dewees was appointed to the job in January of 1945, then won an election to continue in the office through 1947. She never carried a firearm, and reported only two arrests during her entire term. Later she would return as a county district clerk, a job she held from 1965 to 1986. As of January 2000, she still resided on a ranch near Mentone.

Alleged takeover attempt by the "Free Town Project"Edit

In February of 2006, Loving County became the focus of a New York Times article detailing an alleged attempt by Libertarians Lawrence Pendarvis, Bobby Emory, and Don Duncan to "take over" Loving County and its county seat, Mentone. According to the article, Pendarvis and his associates, part of the Free Town Project, planned to buy parcels of land in the county, then move in enough of their supporters to outvote earlier residents and take control of local government. [3]

According to a website for Mr. Pendarvis' movement, their objectives were to "remove oppressive Regulations...and stop enforcement of Laws prohibiting Victimless Acts among Consenting Adults, such as Dueling, Gambling, Incest, Price-Gouging, Cannibalism, and Drug Handling." Additionally, the group sought "to ensure that the Sheriff's Office or the Town Police are never allowed to waste valuable Town oppress our residents by the investigation or enforcement of violations of Laws that punish Truancy, Drug Trafficking, Prostitution, Obscenity, Organ Trafficking, BumFights, and other Victimless 'Crimes'." [4]

Although Pendarvis, Emory and Duncan claimed to have legally bought 126 acres in Loving county in 2005, and registered to vote accordingly, the county sheriff, Billy Burt Hopper, determined that this land had been sold to a different buyer. Misdemeanor charges were filed against the three men, who had left the state by this time. Pendarvis claimed to have a cancelled check to prove his purchase of the land in question, but no deed was ever produced, and the original landowners denied having sold land to Pendarvis or his associates. The three were subsequently featured on a "wanted" poster issued by Sheriff Hopper and the local Texas Rangers (displayed at Hopper's office), and threatened with arrest should they return to Loving County.

Although Mr. Pendarvis' website remains operative, his project does not seem to be active at this time, due to lack of funding and participation.


Loving County is served by the Wink-Loving Independent School District. The county's school system was closed and consolidated into Wink's ISD in 1972 because the enrollment had fallen to two pupils.

Popular cultureEdit

"Loving County" is the name of a song written and performed by Charlie Robison. It appears on his 1998 album Step Right Up.


External linksEdit

Coordinates: 31°50′N 103°34′W / 31.84, -103.57

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Loving County, Texas. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.

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