Loving County, the smallest county in the Permian Basin of West Texas, is surrounded on the east by Winkler County, on the south by Ward County, on the west by the Pecos River and Reeves County, and on the north by Eddy and Lea counties, New Mexico. Mentone, the county seat and only town in the county, is located in its southwestern corner seventy-five miles west of Odessa.
Cities, Towns & Communities
From 1837 to 1874 the area of Loving County was part of the Bexar land district. In 1874 the Texas legislature separated Tom Green County from the Bexar District. In 1887 Loving County was separated from Tom Green County, but it remained attached to Reeves County for judicial purposes. It was named for Oliver Loving, an early Texas cattleman who was mortally wounded by Indians on the Pecos in the area of the county as he rode in advance of his herd in 1866. Loving County is the only Texas county to be organized twice. The first organization appears to have been a scheme to defraud on the part of the organizers. Early in 1893 six men from Denver, Colorado, organized the Loving Canal and Irrigation Company of Mentone, Texas, with the stated purpose of migrating to isolated Loving County and constructing an irrigation canal from the Pecos to surrounding farmland. Although the 1890 United States census reported a population of only three in Loving County, on June 13, 1893, the organizers of the canal company filed a petition with the Reeves County Commissioners Court signed by 150 allegedly qualified voters who requested separate organization for Loving County. The court approved the petition and allowed the organization of the county. A county election was held on July 8, 1893, eighty-three votes were reported, and county organization was approved. Mentone, a town laid out by the company organizers twelve miles north of the present Mentone, was designated the county seat. Irrigation company organizers and several nonresidents were elected to county offices.
Loving County History 1922. Loving County. While the boundaries were given to this county in 1887, it has never been organized and is attached to Ward County for judicial purposes. Aside from its value as a stock range the only importance to be noted is the progress of irrigation along the Pecos River, which forms the western boundary of the county. In 1910 there were seventy-nine individual farms or ranches in the county, as compared with only six in 1900. Twelve farms were irrigated in 1909. There were four irrigation enterprises, which were capable of irrigating over 5,000 acres. The amount of land classified as “improved” was 580, practically all of it under the irrigation ditches. The total area of the county is 481,920 acres, and in 1910 about 200,000 acres were included in farms or ranches. The number of cattle reported at the last enumeration was 4,159, and 380 horses and mules. The county has long been regarded as one of the best cattle ranges in West Texas. In 1909 the total assessed values in the county were $392,341 ; in 1913, $384,887 ; in 1920, $653,574. In 1890 the county was credited with a population of only three inhabitants ; in 1900, 33; in 1910, 249; and in 1920, 82. – History of Texas, 1922, by W. Barrett Travis.
Loving County has no incorporated communities; its county seat and only community is Mentone. As of the 2010 census, the population was 82, making it the least populous county in the United States. Owing partly to its small and dispersed population, it also has the highest median per capita and household income of any county in Texas.
Mentone, TX 31° 42′ 18.4644″ N, 103° 35′ 57.6528″ W