Butler, Indiana



Butler map



Butler is located in northeast Indiana in De Kalb County.  This is the crossing of two busy Norfolk Southern lines.  The Norfolk Southern Huntington District crosses 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.

CP 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. 

Historical Aspects

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 early that
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.


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.

Hotbox Detectors

Audio NS 360.5 (former Conrail "Butler" detector) - on the NS Chicago line, about 1.5 miles west. [MP3 format, 101K, 12 sec.]
Here is the old Conrail detector,  reprogrammed in Jan. 2000.  [MP3 format, 137K, 17sec.]

Audio NS 118.4 - on the NS Huntington District, about 3 miles south.  [MP3 format, 57K, 7 sec.]


NS 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.

NS L96 is westbound on the Huntington District after crossing the Chicago Line and heads into the siding at Butler on March 25, 2004.

One 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.

Just 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 29, 2004.

West 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.
Audio[MP3 format, 112K, 13 sec.]



© Original Content Copyright 1999-2007 David Safdy
© Design and Updates Copyright 2005-2007 Greg Lavoie