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Loving County, Texas facts for kids

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Loving County
Loving County Courthouse, the only two-story building in Mentone
Loving County Courthouse, the only two-story building in Mentone
Map of Texas highlighting Loving County
Location within the U.S. state of Texas
Map of the United States highlighting Texas
Texas's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Texas
Founded 1887
Named for Oliver Loving
Seat Mentone
Largest community Mentone
 • Total 677 sq mi (1,750 km2)
 • Land 669 sq mi (1,730 km2)
 • Water 7.8 sq mi (20 km2)  1.1%
 • Total 64
 • Density 0.0945/sq mi (0.03650/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 23rd

Loving County is a county in the U.S. state of Texas. With a population of 64 per the 2020 census, it is the least-populous county in the contiguous United States. Its county seat and only community is Mentone. The county was originally created in 1887, and after being disorganized in 1897, was reorganized in 1931.


Prehistorically, the area had many springs with potable water that supported wildlife and nomadic hunters. Antonio de Espejo visited the area in 1853 and crossed the Pecos River. Having surveyed the area in 1854 for a railroad company, John Pope returned in 1855 to start a camp in northwestern Loving County and establish artesian wells in the area, but the venture was unsuccessful and was abandoned in 1861.

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

Loving County is named for Oliver Loving, a cattle rancher and pioneer of the cattle drive who, along with Charles Goodnight, developed the Goodnight-Loving Trail. He was mortally wounded by members of the Comanche nation 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 again 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. After a local landowner hired a New York City firm to investigate alleged improprieties in county government, the company's organizers fled, taking with them all the county records. The state legislature subsequently disincorporated 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 begin a steady decline which had continued until recently.

Loving County was the home of the first elected female sheriff in Texas, Edna Reed Clayton Dewees. Dewees was appointed to the job in January 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. After retirement she lived on a ranch near Mentone until 22 January 2009 when she died in Del Rio.

Loving County watertower
Water tower in the county


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 677 square miles (1,750 km2), of which 669 square miles (1,730 km2) is land and 7.8 square miles (20 km2) (1.1%) is water.

The Pecos River is the county's western boundary, forming the Red Bluff Reservoir along its northwestern border with Reeves County, Texas and Eddy County, New Mexico. The terrain of Loving County is described as flat desert, with a few low hills. Desert shrubs, range grass and cacti abound, with salt cedars along the river. Elevations vary from 2,686 to 3,311 feet (1,009 m) above sea level.

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

Major highways

  • Texas 302.svg State Highway 302
  • Texas RM 652.svg Ranch to Market Road 652

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1940 285
1950 227 −20.4%
1960 226 −0.4%
1970 164 −27.4%
1980 91 −44.5%
1990 107 17.6%
2000 67 −37.4%
2010 82 22.4%
2020 64 −22.0%
U.S. Decennial Census
1850–2010 2010 2020

2020 census

Loving County, Texas - Demographic Profile
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Race / Ethnicity Pop 2010 Pop 2020 % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 60 56 73.17% 87.50%
Black or African American alone (NH) 0 0 0.00% 0.00%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 4 1 4.88% 1.56%
Asian alone (NH) 0 0 0.00% 0.00%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 0 0 0.00% 0.00%
Some Other Race alone (NH) 0 1 0.00% 1.56%
Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH) 0 5 0.00% 7.81%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 18 1 21.95% 1.56%
Total 82 64 100.00% 100.00%

Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 64 people, 30 households, and 20 families residing in the county, down from 67 people, 31 households, and 19 families living in the county in 2000.

The county had been the least-populous county in the United States, with a 2010 census population of only 82 persons (an increase of 22.4% over the 2000 figure of 67 residents), but the 2015 estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau places it as the second-least populous county nationwide. With an average of only 0.0646 inhabitants/km2 (0.167/sq mi) as of 2015, the county is also the least-densely populated county outside of Alaska. Lake and Peninsula Borough and North Slope Borough in Alaska are both lower, as is the Yukon-Koyukuk census area.


Census-designated place

Ghost towns

In popular culture

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


Loving County's economy is based almost entirely upon oil and gas drilling, ranching, and county services.


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.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Loving para niños

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