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Why is there a glass beach in Fort Bragg, California?

Glass Beach is... or I guess maybe was... one of my favorite places (we will get to that later). When I discovered the beach, it is was filled with smooth, colorful, decades-old trash which had been carefully tumbled by Mother Nature.


Glass Beach is in Fort Bragg, California, a stretch of coastline in Mendocino County. In 1906, it was actually THE dump site for residents. For decades, people drove out to the scenic expanse of Fort Bragg's ocean cliffs, perhaps marvelled at the beauty and majesty of the ocean's depths, and then dumped all their trash, including cars and appliances, over the cliff and into the crashing waves.


Eventually, California and it's residents decided maybe dumping trash into the ocean wasn't a great idea. The dumping was stopped in 1967, but the damage was already done. The beaches under the cliffs were polluted, cluttered and thought to be ruined, basically treated as a forgotten mistake. In comes Mother Nature... she spent the next few decades tumbling away the jagged edges of our callousness and left behind a glorious stained glass beach.


People eventually rediscovered the resurrected rainbow beaches and started flocking in to see the wonder and collect treasures. California realized the tourist draw and turned Glass Beach into a protected park by purchasing the 38 acre property and incorporating it into MacKerricher State Park in October 2002.


Up until a couple years ago, a person would have to brave some short cliffs and do a small amount of rock climbing in order to reach some of these glass covered beaches, but now there are paved walkways with ADA compliant ramps leading straight down to the beach. Don't get me wrong, it's nice that everyone has the opportunity to see this beach up close. But as you can imagine, the beautifully colored glass-covered beach has quickly become a mix of sand and common colored glass, not tumbled quite so smooth. Hence why I say it "was" one of my favorite spots. Though I still hold the memories close to my heart and think about my time there fondly. And I'm sure if you hadn't seen it in it's glory days, you'd still think it was full of charm... and sea glass.



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