Trash to Treasure: Exploring Nature’s Art at Fort Bragg’s Glass Beach

Although cloaked in irony, Glass Beach sits as a reminder of the power of nature

It was common practice in the early 1900’s to just throw your trash in the ocean. Today, we can all agree that’s a poor practice, and Glass Beach sits to remind us that nature can turn our past mistakes into present-day beauty.

In 1906, Fort Bragg residents established a water dump site on their beach along the Mendocino Coast where locals dumped their glass, appliances and even cars. They referred to it as “The Dumps” and even lit it on fire every once in a while to shrink the pile of trash.

4 out of 5 environmentalists just threw up in their mouths.

“The Dumps” moved around to three different sites until 1967, when city officials, realizing the absolute hideousness of the situation, closed the site and began cleanup initiatives. Following years of pounding waves hitting the discarded trash on the beach, the glass pieces were smoothed into small, round pieces of brightly colored jewels.

And just like that, nature took someones’ trash and made it another person’s treasure.

Today, the three dump sites all live on as Glass Beach, with the prominent beach sitting at the third site next to MacKerricher State Park. Glass Beach has become a popular destination, with tens of thousands of tourists visiting the site each year.

But there are strict rules surrounding Glass Beach, the biggest of which being – DO NOT TAKE THE GLASS.

With many tourists visiting the area, everyone wants to take one of the “jewels” home with them, which could wipe Glass Beach from existence (do you see the irony? Do not remove the trash from the beach!) In fact, in 2012 the City Council of the City of Fort Bragg even discussed replenishing the glass at the main Glass Beach in order to rejuvenate the tourism (do you see more irony? Let’s put more trash on the beach where we used to throw trash because there’s not enough trash!).

Today, the site remains a popular spot for visitors to snap pictures of the human induced natural phenomenon. While most of the glass sits on the two less-popular beaches (dumps sites) there is still plenty beauty at the main Glass Beach.

Just remember – DO NOT REMOVE THE TRASH FROM THE BEACH! All jokes aside, Glass Beach is a testament to the power of nature and a reminder of our past mistakes. A very cool place to see in person!

Have fun on your trip to Glass Beach:

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