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Glass Beach – Fort Bragg, California

Glass Beach – Fort Bragg, California

Imagine a beach not made of sand but Glass! Seems imaginary and impossible but everything is possible on this Earth… and so is this. The Glass Beach, as it is famously called, is a beach in MacKerricher State Park near the Fort Bragg in California. But unlike many other marvels on the face of our planet that have been created out of various geological processes and phenomenon, this one is due to the reckless dumping of garbage over the centuries.


This began in the earlier phase of the twentieth century when the residents of the Fort Bragg began throwing their garbage onto the dump yard   which is now the Glass Beach. The garbage consisted of many electrical appliances, glass articles as well as transportation vehicles! More surprising was the fact that the whole dumping ground was actually the property of Union Lumber Company which the people very completely took for granted to serve for their waste disposal. Over the time the dumps resembled mountains and heaps of trash which were impossible to control with the growing and exploding population, so they were simply burnt down by fire.

In 1967, the place was finally sealed by the authorities of California, the California State Water Resources Control Board who did not know how to further reduce the ever increasing volumes of trash. Various clean up programs were organized and undertaken in the area but to no avail and hence the land was left at the mercy of nature for the rest few decades. Over time, the waves from the sea swept away all the junk, carrying along the pieces of anything and everything the sea could manage to gobble up but left behind pieces of glass. These pieces were broken down into yet smaller bits and smoothed and rounded by the pressure and friction of sea waves that hit these pieces. What was left behind was the beautiful and spectacular Glass Beach of the present times.

What is even more surprising is the fact that there is not just one such beach but in fact three Glass Beaches in Fort Bragg, California. All the three of these beaches were broadly formed by rampant dumping of glass articles and household garbage over a sixty years period beginning from early twentieth century 1906 to the post half of the twentieth century, 1967. The two of the beaches out of the three are located in Elm Street and Glass Beach Drive. They were subject to garbage dumping from 1943 to 1949 after which the sea took over the Herculean task of turning these into eye catching destinations which stand out as a marvel even a midst a long story of destruction and wastage of the resources on these grounds.


These beaches are easily and freely accessible to people who would either like to enjoy the picturesque beauty of shining and glistening glass pieces beneath their feet and also for those who would like to take a tougher path of climbing down hillocks and cliffs to reach these Beaches.

Unlike the two beaches the Beach number one which has faced the longest history of dumping on its grounds and bears deepest scars of the abandoned glass on its face, has something more special about it. This one cannot be accessed so easily as the cliffs that lead to it are strictly monitored for no encroachment. So, in order to get to this destination, people use the waterways which are safer and quicker.

This Beach officially became the property of the people after a private property owner stressed in 1998 that the Glass Beaches were of the people, for the people and by the people in essence! Then began a half a decade years of mechanism to clean up the place in collaboration with the California Coastal Conservancy and California Integrated Water Management Board in order to make it worth a place to be sold to the state. It was purchased by the California Department of Parks and Recreation from where the fifteen hectare of the purchased Glass Beach property in October 2002 was amalgamated with the MacKerricher State Park which remains the same to this date.

This Glass Beach has become a popular tourist spot in California. People come to enjoy its uniqueness and glitter of the colorful glass scattered everywhere and the soothing blue of the sea waters. But, tourists are strictly prohibited from collecting the glass and carrying it with them. A Glass Festival is also held to commemorate these wonderful triplet Beaches.


Just as the nature created this, the same force of nature is also destroying this beach with time. The action of waves is slowly grinding down the glass to nothing and the beach is slowly losing its glass. The state authorities are making efforts to replenish the Beaches before they completely vanish along with their beauty, glitter and uniqueness. Similar Glass Beaches have also sprung up in Benicia, California and Hanapepe, Hawaii.

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