The Angelina and Neches River Railroad Company was chartered on August 23, 1900, to connect Keltys in Angelina County with Manton, twelve miles to the east. The railroad had a capital stock of $75,000. The principal place of business was Keltys. The members of the first board of directors were Joseph H. Kurth, S. W. Henderson, Eli Wiener, and E. T. Clark, all of Keltys; E. J. Mantooth and W. M. Glenn, both of Lufkin; and Sam Wiener, Jr., of Shreveport, Louisiana.
The line originated as a narrow-gauge tram road constructed by the Angelina County Lumber Company in 1895. The Angelina and Neches River acquired ten miles of track running eastward from Keltys in August 1900, and in August 1906 purchased an additional ten miles to Alco from the lumber company. At this time the railroad was converted to standard gauge. Additional track was acquired from Angelina County Lumber Company: Alco to Naclina in June 1910 and Naclina to Chireno in June 1912. The Angelina and Neches was one of the roads involved in the Tap Line Case before the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1910. The Railroad Commission did not recognize this line as a common carrier until 1911. In 1916 the A&NR owned one locomotive and five cars and reported passenger earnings of $6,000 and freight earnings of $40,000. In 1944 Southland Paper Mills was established on the railroad. In 1963 the line removed twenty-one miles of track between Dunagan and Chireno. It reported a total net income of $290,000 in 1972, when it owned two locomotives and eleven cars; it rented some of its rolling stock. The Angelina and Neches River acquired terminal tracks at Lufkin from the St. Louis Southwestern in the 1980s, when that company abandoned its line from Jacksonville to Lufkin, and about a mile of track from the Southern Pacific from Dunagan to Buck Creek.