Butler is located in northeast Indiana
in De Kalb County. This is the crossing of two busy Norfolk Southern
lines. The Norfolk Southern Huntington Districtcrosses the
Chicago Line at grade on the southeast side of town. There is a connecting
track at the southeast corner of the diamond which allows trains to transfer
between the two tracks. In the summer of 2005 a connector was added to the
northwest quadrant of the diamond to allow CP Rail to utilize the line from
Detroit to Elkhart via Butler. Also added at the same time was a crossover
between the two mains on the Chicago Line west of town near Co Rd 61.
Canadian Pacific Trackage Rights
In early May of 2005 NS crews started work on a new wye connector in the
north west quadrant of the diamond to allow trains coming out of Detroit to
travel on the Huntington District to Elkhart via Butler and the Chicago Line.
Work on the new connector was completed by August 8th, 2005 and the first CP
train to traverse the new connector was NS symbol 29T.
train 29T led by CP 5663 heads onto the wye about to cross over US 6 in
Butler, IN in August 2005. The train will then head west on the former CR/NYC
Chicago line towards Elkhart.
*Photo by Mike Meisener
This new routing allowed CP to remove trains from the CSX line via Grand
Rapids that they had been allowed trackage rights on. This saved CP around 100
miles of traveling and also gave them a double tracked portion of railroad to
run on for a large portion of the run.
The Pennsy's line from Logansport terminated in Butler, just southwest
of the crossing diamonds. There is very little left of the line today.
The connection track at the southeast corner of the diamonds was built
to allow Conrail access to the SDI plant just south of here. After
the NS acquisition of the Chicago Line in 1999 this track now serves to
connect the two lines as part of a through route.
A very tragic collision between NS and Conrail occurred here on March 25,
1998. A westbound NS Roadrailer train hit an eastbound Conrail TV
train at the diamonds. The conductor on the NS train, a Peru, Indiana
native, was killed in the accident. Download
the complete NTSB report here (you will need Adobe Acrobat to read
On March 25, 1998 Norfolk Southern Roadrailer 255 collided with the
first few cars of
Conrail TV-220 at the Butler crossing diamonds at 4:48am. I remember
hearing the De Kalb
County emergency calls on my scanner from my location in Fort Wayne
morning. Scary stuff for sure. (AP News Photo above)
Both lines see very heavy traffic throughout the day. Several through
trains use the connecting track including 34N, 35N, 11E, 18Q, 17J, 27V
and 2 sets of intermodals. 4 long distance Amtrak trains pass through
here daily on the Chicago Line. There are 2 in the morning and 2
at night. It is not advised to watch trains near the diamonds in
Butler. There is a public road (Erie St.) that runs across the southwest
side of the crossing, however the safest place to watch trains is at the
grade crossings in town.
160.800 - Norfolk Southern, Chicago Line (Toledo-West Dispatcher)
160.380 - Norfolk Southern, Huntington District
Note: The dispatcher antennas on this part of the Chicago
Line are directional so unless you are fairly close to the tracks, you
will only hear the train transmissions.
NS 118.4 - on the NS Huntington District, about 3 miles south. [MP3
format, 57K, 7 sec.]
9363 leads a late 34N north on the Huntington District getting ready to take the
connector to join onto the Chicago Line and head east.
L96 is westbound on the Huntington District after crossing the Chicago
Line and heads into the siding at Butler on March 25, 2004.
of Norfolk Southern's hot auto parts trains, 17J, takes the connecting
track off of the Chicago Line and heads west towards Fort Wayne led by
SD40 #3189. March 25, 2004.
east of Butler is the County Road 28 crossing. This is a nice place
to keep an eye on the westbound signals as well as photograph trains.
Train 14Q runs eastbound on track 1 kicking up a little snow on January
of the Broadway St. crossing this eastbound NS steel train passes by the
Butler water tower led by BNSF 6719, an SD40-2. May 11, 2000.
format, 112K, 13 sec.]