Chartered in August 1900 and headquartered in the sawmill town of Keltys, the Angelina and Neches River (A&NR) Railroad began as a small short line railroad to move logs from the woods of East Texas to the mills of the Angelina County Lumber Company. Principal founding fathers Joseph H. Kurth, Sr.; S.W. Henderson, Sr.; Eli Wiener and Sam Wiener, all officers in the Angelina County Lumber Company, joined the growing trend of lumber company industrialists who branched out into the railroad business about the turn of the 20th century. The A&NR began with ten miles of track and two wood-burning narrow-gauge steam locomotives.
In 1906, the line added 2.54 miles of track, with its eastern terminus at Alco, a logging camp owned by the lumber company. Two new locomotives were purchased to accommodate the conversion of the track from narrow to standard gauge. By 1911, the line extended to Chireno in Nacogdoches County. With the founding of Southland Paper Mills in 1938, made possible largely due to assets of the A&NR, the railroad expanded to haul in pulpwood and ship out newsprint made from southern pine.
In its first 100 years, the Angelina & Neches River's short line service played a key role in the economic development of Lufkin and other communities along the line. It continues as an important part of the history of the East Texas timber industry.