Cincinnati, Dayton & Eastern, the first railroad to enter Middletown, had a series of official and unofficial names. To emphasize it was a shorter route between Cincinnati and Dayton than the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton, the CD&E was promoted as the Bee Line, the Straight Line, the Short Line and the Dayton & Cincinnati Shortline. In its early years, it also was known as the Cincinnati & Springfield Railway and the Columbus, Springfield & Cincinnati Railroad. From south to north, Butler County stops and stations were Gano, West Chester, Maud, Hughes, Kyles, Monroe and Middletown. Dec. 6, 1866, Middletown leaders passed enabling legislation that permitted the Cincinnati, Dayton & Eastern (CD&E) to enter the city. Short Line freight service to and from Middletown started in June 1872. Passenger service began July 4, 1872. That same day was the effective date of the Short Line lease to the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & Indianapolis Railway (CCC&I). The lease had been drafted and approved in 1871. From 1882 to 1968, the Short Line was part of the New York Central System under several corporate names. In June 1889 the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway (CCC&St.L) was incorporated in Ohio. Later that month, several companies -- the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & Indianapolis Railway, the Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis & Chicago Railway and the Indianapolis & St. Louis Railway -- were combined with the CCC& St. L, but commonly known as The Big Four." The New York Central Railroad Co. was incorporated Jan. 1, 1915, as a consolidation of several lines. June 1, 1968, the New York Central System and the Pennsylvania Railroad merged as Penn Central, which filed for bankruptcy two years later. Conrail, a railroad created by Congress to take over bankrupt companies, assumed control of Penn Central April 1, 1976.
In 1998 the U. S. Surface Transportation Board approved the division of Conrail among the Norfolk & Southern and CSX. The division was effective June 1, 1999, and the Norfolk Southern acquired the Short Line route through eastern Butler County.