As Mooretown’s growth had caused the decline of Sutherland’s Landing, Mooretown in turn declined as Courtright grew. Courtright had had some early settlement, with a ferry service to Palmer, Michigan (now St. Clair) since 1850, Cathcart’s store opened in the late 1850s and a hotel opened by the 1860s.
It was the arrival of the Canada Southern Railroad, however, that prompted Courtright’s major growth. In the late 1860’s the Canada Southern Railroad built a line from St. Thomas to the St. Clair River. Great things were expected of the village located where the rail line met the river, as it was to connect by ferry to St. Clair, Michigan to make a shorter route from New York to Chicago. Courtright, named in honour of Canada Southern Railroad president Milton Courtright, grew quickly. Land sales were expected to be so brisk that on the day lots went up for sale special steamer runs from Wallaceburg and Sarnia brought in prospective buyers. Numerous stores and industries including a grist mill, spoke factory, cooperage, planing mill and a marine repair shop were established in the first decade after the railroad arrived. The rail line in Michigan never went past Jackson due to land speculation along the proposed right of way in Michigan. Even though the expected link did not occur, Courtright still enjoyed the employment brought by the railroad.
With its location beside the St. Clair River, Courtright has always had hotels. The “Ferry House” was in operation even before the building boom. With train service from both the Canada Southern and Erie & Huron railroads, many people also arrived by train to vacation beside the beautiful fresh water of the St. Clair River.