The Decatur Line


"The Central Soya Express"

CSX C721 approaches Emenhiser Rd. near Williams, IN


The Decatur Line is operated by RailAmerica and runs between Adams (just east of Adams Center Rd.) and Decatur, Indiana.  This is part of the Chicago, Fort Wayne, & Eastern Railroad or CFE.  This track was once part of the Grand Rapids and Indiana (GR&I) to Cincinnati.  CSX operated it prior to RailAmerica and Conrail prior to CSX.  The line passes through Hoagland and Williams before crossing the St. Marys River into Decatur.  This line survives due to the Central Soya  plant located in northern Decatur.  The line is completely unsignaled and run dark.

Map of CSX Decatur Secondary
CFE Decatur Line




It takes the better part of 1 1/2 hours to get to Decatur due to the 10 mph speed limit on the line.  It's extremely easy to chase this train from Adams to Decatur. You could almost chase it on foot, but for sure on a bicycle!  Once it arrives, the train spends most of its time switching cars in and out of the Central Soya plant which is on the north side of Decatur and there is a fairly large yard there for that purpose.  Occasionally the local will run further south to use a segment of the old Erie Lackawanna mainline which they operate on westbound to switch Dolco Packaging who uses plastic pellets.
The wobbly line is fairly straight most of the way to Decatur but it has a few small grades along the way.


HARR is where the controlled portion of the line ends to the south.  It is located just a few hundred feet north of Piqua Rd. in Decatur.  South of this point it is known as the Decatur Industrial Track.  Currently Norfolk Southern dispatchers control the line from HARR northward.

Looking south, in the distance is the Central Soya plant in Decatur.  Just in front of it is the St. Mary's River bridge.



On November 30, 2000 CSX C721 runs south through Hoagland, Indiana with a 43-car train led by CSX 2614.

The Decatur local, formerly called WDFW1 in the Conrail era, is seen here crossing Flatrock Rd. (Allen Co.) southbound on October 7, 1997.

The train is predominantly composed of Central Soya hoppers and tank cars but on occasion there will be a box car.

A close up of the rail on the Decatur Line.  It's easy to see why it's 10 mph running.

The Decatur local spends a great deal of time switching cars in and out of the Central Soya plant.  Usually it takes several hours.  Frequently they "kick" cars in the yard to save time which is what he is doing here.  July 24, 1997.


The Decatur local backs up across Dayton Ave. southbound on July 24, 1997.


The Decatur local is returning north on the GR&I seen here crossing Piqua Rd., along US 27/33.  Just north of this crossing is HARR, where the controlled portion begins northward to Adams.  July 24, 1997.

C721 is seen here passing south through Williams, Indiana on April 28, 2000.  The track diverging at the 2503's lead truck is a spur that goes into the Williams co-op elevator.  Williams is located right on the Adams/Allen County line.


On occasion the Decatur local runs south of Central Soya to Dolco Packaging on the southwest side of Decatur.  The train uses a short segment of the Erie Lackawanna mainline to do this.  The connection to this segment is where "DA" Tower once stood and the train backs up east onto the EL main before heading west.  In the first photo he is crossing US 27 eastbound and then runs down the wobbly EL main towards the DA connection.



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