The Smell of the Pogie Plant
For those of you who were not around Amelia Island about fifty years ago you really missed some smells that would have stayed with you forever. One such smell was the pogie plant when it was in full operation. We would see the pogie boats off shore catching pogy fish and we knew before too long we would also be smelling them. The pogie fish is a very oily fish and is just perfect for fertilizer and fish oil. We still have the plant located on the north end of the Island next to the 14Th. boat ramp. Although the plant is still there it no longer processes pogie fish, that operation is handled on the gulf coast.
It was a huge operation back then. A spotter plane actually spotted the schools of fish and would direct the smaller net boats by radio so they could surround the schools. Once the school was surrounded the main boat would haul in the catch. After the boats brought the catch to the plant they would go through a grinding process to extract the fish oil and then a cooking process that would provide fertilizer. It was the cooking process that would offer a smell like no other smell on earth. The locals actually learned to live with it and I can’t say I really remember a lot of complaining, except from new comers who were just not use to it.
We were in the boat building business and also repairing large vessels. The pogie plant would always call on Dad for any repair work needed on the larger boats, Dad also built the smaller net boats. I can remember going along on repair jobs and after crawling around in the depths of one of the larger boats Mom just throwing those clothes away.
Yep, we smell pretty good today compared to the “good ole days”. I’ve often wondered if the processing plants on the Gulf coast still have that smell today?