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By W. Gardner Selby August 27, 2011

Rick Perry says Paint Creek, Texas doesn't have a ZIP code

Introducing himself to out-of-Texas Republicans, Gov. Rick Perry spoke of his upbringing in the West Texas fly speck of Paint Creek.

According to Google Maps, the Haskell County community is 57 miles north of Abilene, 160 miles southeast of Lubbock, about 170 miles northwest of Fort Worth and 288 miles northwest of Austin, the capital where Perry has lived since 1991.

"It doesn’t even have a ZIP code," Perry said at an Aug. 14 dinner speech in Iowa, the day after saying something similar while declaring his candidacy for president at a South Carolina meeting.

No ZIP code at all? How do they get mail in Paint Creek, via the Pony Express?

Some background: ZIP codes (the acronym stands for Zoning Improvement Plan) were launched in 1963, the Postal Service says, so the delivery system could better handle increasing amounts of mail. The first number of each code represents a general geographic area of the nation — "0" in the East moving to "9" in the West. The next two numbers represent regional areas, and the final two numbers identify specific post offices. There are now more than 42,000 U.S. ZIP codes.

Sam Bolen, a Texas-based spokesman for the postal service, it takes a minimum of 10,000 mail deliveries in an area for it to qualify for its own assigned ZIP code, though some existing codes cover areas with fewer deliveries.

At the Haskell post office, about 10 miles northwest of Paint Creek, clerk Nancy Snelling told us that Paint Creek has a ZIP code; it’s 79521, which is also the ZIP code for Haskell, the county seat.

Perhaps Perry means Paint Creek is not big enough to warrant its own ZIP code. In that vein, there’s an element of truth to his claim. We rate it Mostly False.

Our Sources

Telephone interview, Sam Bolen, public information officer, Rio Grande District and Fort Worth District, San Marcos, Aug. 16, 2011

Telephone interview, Nancy Snelling, clerk. U.S. Postal Service, Haskell, Aug. 15, 2011

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More by W. Gardner Selby

Rick Perry says Paint Creek, Texas doesn't have a ZIP code

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