In the late 1800s Pensacola was known as the “Snapper Capital of the World.” These two-masted schooners (above) were part of the E. E. Saunders & Co. fishing fleet. Their holds served as live wells, and the sound of the water sloshing in the wells gave these ships the nickname “smacks.” The smacks continued to be used after the introduction of commercial ice machines, with the holds filled with ice rather than water. An average fishing trip would result in a catch of 30,000 to 40,000 pounds of red snapper and grouper.

The major fish houses had railroad loading docks at their piers. The freshly caught fish (right) were processed, packed in ice and shipped across the country.