Fun Facts and a Bit of History

Harding County was created in March 4, 1921 from parts of Union and Mora counties, named after then-President Warren G. Harding.

The population of this county was 810 (2000 U. S. Census Bureau estimate). The location of this county is in Northeast New Mexico, surrounded by Mora County to the west, Colfax County to the north, Union County to the north and east, Quay County to the east and south, San Miguel County to the south and west.

The size of this county: 2,138 square miles, or 1.36 million acres with 348,600 acres of state land and 70,500 acres of federal land.

The county seat is Mosquero, pop. 156. Largest town is Roy, pop. 350. (1998 figures).

The main industry: Ranching, mostly beef cattle operations with 96 percent of the county in rangeland; 50,000 head of cattle in the county.

The main non-agricultural employer: Government; county, state, local and schools.

The School districts: Roy, 115 students; Mosquero, 60 students. (1998 figures).

Elevation is 4,000 to 6,000 feet. Roy at 5,880, Mosquero at 5,500.

The wildlife: antelope, deer, coyotes, Barbary sheep, Ibex, and elk.

Harding County is where small-town life is the only way of life. There are fewer people here than in any other county in the state. Mosquero also gives distinction of having New Mexico's smallest county seat and tiniest school district.

"We've got a lot more cows than people," says Buck Allen, a native son and the county extension agent. "If you don't like big crowds, this is the place to be."

The 810 residents are down from 987 in 1990 and 1,090 in 1980. The population could drop to less than 600 in abut 30 years. (figures from Bureau of Business & Economic Research UNM).

"The reason is there are no jobs," Pete Callahan says. He is the county assessor. "We would like some jobs . . . We don't want too doggone much. But we would like to have some."

Ranching is the main industry, carbon dioxide production provided tax dollars and the government schools, state, county and local supplies the bulk of the jobs.

Harding County is larger than either Delaware or Rhode Island, but has less than one-half person per square mile. Only 26 of the nation's 3,142 county have fewer people.

The two towns, Roy and Mosquero, straddle N.M Highway 39. Mosquero boasts a population of 156. Nineteen miles north with about 350 residents is Roy, where NFL Hall of Famer Tommy McDonald began playing football and Bob Wills, who worked as a barber before going off to become the king of Texas swing.

It's in Mosquero and Roy that the county's three restaurants, two bars, two small grocery stores, three gas stations, one bank in Roy (First National Bank of Las Vegas, NM) and a 13-room hotel three rooms have their own bathrooms but none have phones or TVs that can be found.

But folks here are not going to give up. "As long as we have grandmas and grandpas and some kids, we aren't dying", says Roy teach Donna Hazen.

The county's scenic beauty includes the spectacular Canadian River Canyon.

Harding County was created in March 4, 1921, named for President Warren G. Harding, a republican. He was born on Nov. 2, 1865, in Caledona, now Blooming Grove, Ohio. He was the 29th president of the United States. He ran on the platform pledging a nostalgic "return to normalcy following World War I". Not pressing for domestic reform or international involvement was a welcome relief to a war-weary and disillusioned America. He was voted into office by widest popular margin, 60.3 percent, a record at that time. He died Aug. 2, 1923.

(Brief history compiled by Don McAlavy, historian of Curry County, N.M.)