Today it may seem the Glass Beach by Fort Bragg is nothing more than a beautiful place perched on the California Pacific Coast. Just another California wonder bestowed upon us by Mother Nature. But there’s a lot more than meets the eye on these colorful shores.
In previous generations, what’s now known as Glass Beach was the polar opposite of what it’s seen as today. That’s because from 1948 to 1967, right off the shores of this sunny, pristine colorful corner of California was the largest garbage dumps in the region.
The Pacific Ocean served as the home for thousands of pounds of refuse for the residents of Mendocino County. And the dumpsite off current day Glass Beach was the third of its kind off the California coastline near Fort Bragg since 1906. But all this trash would eventually evolve into something much more useful than a waste site.
Effectively, this sea glass is composed entirely of peoples’ trash from the first half of the twentieth century. Everything biodegradable from these trash dumps dissipated into the sea while anything metal was removed under the order of the California State Water Resources Control Board. But everything from pottery to glass bottles to broken flatware was left behind.
It was this pottery, glass bottles, broken flatware, discarded glass housewares—and anything else resistant to the dissolving agents of the sea—to which we owe the existence of Glass Beach. Peoples’ trash from generations ago have become the treasure of today’s generation.