The company was founded in August 1871 to take over a concession, originally granted to P.Montravel in October 1864 for the construction of a line, 293 km long, from Concordia in the province of Entre Ríos to Mercedes in the province of Corrientes. Standard gauge was chosen because of its use in the neighboring country of Uruguay and other railways in that part of Argentina later followed this example.
Starting from Concordia, Federación was reached in 1874, Monte Caseros the next year and then Ceibo on the River Uruguay, which was later developed as a port. Financial problems ensued, further construction of the line was stopped, and in 1886 the Argentine government granted a new concession to John and Matthew Clark to complete the line from Monte Caseros to Mercedes and on to Corrientes. The Clark brothers later transferred their concession to the ANE for the construction to be completed and in 1907 the company bought the EA.