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Keltys, now a part of Lufkin, was once a separately incorporated town near the junction of the Angelina and Neches rivers and the Cotton Belt railroads in northwestern Angelina County. Charles Louis Kelty built a sawmill at the site when the Kansas and Gulf Short Line Railroad was completed between Tyler and Lufkin, intending to use the mill to provide ties for the new railroads. He also established the first logging railroad in Angelina County, a tram road four miles long. In 1887 Joseph H. Kurth, a German immigrant, acquired the sawmill from Kelty. Within a few years he was joined by associates S. W. Henderson, Sr., and Sam Wiener. In 1890 these men organized the Angelina County Lumber Company in Keltys. It became one of the largest timber concerns in Texas. In 1890 the partners also chartered the Angelina and Neches River Railroad, which they later extended to Chireno, thirty miles to the northeast.

Early production at the Angelina County Lumber Company amounted to a few thousand feet of lumber a day. The mill was expanded twice before 1900, when it had a capacity of more than 50,000 board feet a day. After a fire destroyed the mill in 1906, a larger one was built with double that capacity. A fire destroyed this mill in December 1939, and it was replaced in 1940 by a steel and concrete mill able to produce 12,500 board feet per hour. During World War II the Keltys mill received the first American Army-Navy E Award for efficiency and continuous production. It contributed lumber for army camps, crate materials, and ship timbers. Full-time production continued unabated even after the war was over. By 1948 the mill was producing 45 million board feet of pine limber and 15 million feet of hardwood. In that year it employed 465 people and had an annual payroll of $1,104,000.

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Megan Biesele | © TSHA

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Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

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Adoption Status:
This place has been adopted and will not be available until December 24, 2024
Adopted by:
Robert & John Hensley & Mary Hensley Johnson
Dedication Message:
In memory of Sarah Nell Oliver Hensley

Belongs to

Keltys is part of or belongs to the following places:

Currently Exists


Place type

Keltys is classified as a Town


Latitude: 31.36157310
Longitude: -94.75104200

Has Post Office


Is Incorporated