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 Texas : Features : Columns : Bob Bowman's East Texas

An Unlikely Partnership
Angelina and Neches River Railroad

by Bob Bowman
Bob Bowman
They were an unlikely business partnership--a German immigrant, an Irish storekeeper, and two Jewish brothers.

But in 1900, Joseph Kurth, Simon W. Henderson, and Sam and Eli Wiener pooled their resources and created the Angelina and Neches River Railroad.

It wasn’t much of a railroad in the beginning--two wood-burning narrow-gauge locomotives and ten miles of track.

But in almost 110 years, the A&NR has become as much a part of East Texas as the pine trees that blanket the region.

The shortline’s service helped shape the success of Lufkin’s largest corporations--firms like Lufkin Industries, Texas Foundries, Inc., Southland Paper Mills, which made the South’s first newsprint from southern pines, and Angelina Plywood, which made some of the first southern pine plywood in the nation.

The A&NR also became a viable business partner with dozens of other businesses, transporting chemicals, construction materials, groceries, metals and other goods.

The railroad also became one of the proudest possessions of fhe founding families, and many of them spent time “just riding up and down the line” with the railroad crews.
Angelina and Neches River Railroad locomotive on track near Nacalina Texas
An early A&NR locomotive on a track near Nacalina
Photo courtesy Bob Bowman
Charles L. Kelty and James A. Ewing, who owned the sawmill before selling it to Kurth in 1888, had previously utilized a crude log tram consisting of four-by-four wooden rails over which a few log cars were pulled by oxen and mule teams and later by a small shay or "dinky" steam engine.

For the most part, oxen pulling eight-wheel wagons were used to transport logs from the woods to the wooden-tracked tram sites. This worked fine as long as timber stands were accessible within a few miles from the sawmill or the tram roads. In 1911, the A&NR completed a line from Nacalina, at the Angelina River, to Chireno in Nacogdoches County, a distance of 10.74 miles, after the citizens of Chireno agreed to pay $10,200 to the company when the tracks were completed to the community.
Bob Bowman's East Texas
May 10, 2009 Column.
A weekly column syndicated in 70 East Texas newspapers

(Bob Bowman of Lufkin is the author of more than 40 books about East Texas. He can be reaxched at bob-bowman.com)

Related Topics:
Texas Railroads
Texas
East Texas
Texas Towns
Texas Ghost Towns
Bob Bowman's East Texas
Bob Bowman's "All Things Historical"

The Forgotten Towns of East Texas, Vol. I
By Bob and Doris Bowman
66 stories about forgotten town in 45 counties
 
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