Loving County, the smallest county in the Permian Basin of West Texas, is bounded 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. The center of the county lies at 31°50' north latitude and 103°35' west longitude. Mentone, the county seat and only town in the county, is located in its southwestern corner seventy-five miles west of Odessa. Loving County consists of 671 square miles of flat desert terrain with a few low-rolling hills stretching over calichified bedrock and wash deposits of pebbles, gravel, and sand. The soils of the county-loams, chalk, clays, and sands-support desert shrubs, cacti, range grasses, and salt cedars along the river. Wildlife includes waterfowl, quail, deer, badgers, javelinas, rabbits, bobcats, coyotes, armadillos, skunks, opossums, raccoons, rattlesnakes, killifish, brine shrimp, and turtles. Elevations vary from 2,686 to 3,311 feet above sea level. Temperatures vary from an average low of 29° F in January to an average high of 96° in July. The growing season lasts 222 days. Rainfall averages just over ten inches. The county has an immature drainage system made up of hundreds of playas and dry draws that feed into the Pecos only after heavy rainfall. In 1936 Red Bluff Dam was built across the Pecos on the Texas-New Mexico boundary for irrigation and recreation. Water from the Pecos, however, is too saline for drinking, so the 100 residents of the county haul water from a community tank.
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