If you happen to pass by Fort Bragg, California, you can’t just afford to miss paying a visit to MacKerricher State Park where you can find a beach littered with colorful glasses. But don’t worry about stepping on them because the pieces of glass have been smoothed and rounded over decades of crashing waves. Now the shoreline is a colorful palette of pebble-like glass and sand.
Are these pieces natural? No, not in the first place.
After the devastating earthquake in San Francisco, trash from the streets were dumped on the coast to be washed away by the ocean. This, of course, included plenty of glass. For many years (1906–1967), seaside towns use the coastline as dumping areas, and Fort Bragg was not spared.
In 1967, city officials, particularly the North Coast Water Quality Board, realized the mistake they made and sought to clean up the shoreline by relocating the dump away. But when they started the clean-up, they realized that the glass pieces have become smooth and like rounded pebbles throughout the decades of crashing waves.
In October 2002, Glass Beach was purchased by California State Parks. The Coastal Conservancy, the City of Fort Bragg, and the Mendocino Land Trust gathered funds for the purchase of the 38-acre property. The Land Trust took care of waste removal and clean-up and turned the shore into a botanical, archaeological, and erosion-control work before the purchase, as implemented by state parks. After the completion of the Pudding Creek Trestle in 2007, visitors may now walk from MacKerricher State Park to the headlands at Glass Beach.
Word about this unique beach spread, attracting more visitors to come flocking down the Glass Beach. Visitors drawn to this tourist spot began collecting the glass with each visit, resulting to a great decrease of the amount of glass on the beach. Since its recognition as a state park, removing any artifact is considered a misdemeanor. The remaining glass on the beach needs to be reserved.
Apart from the glass, the beach also has an interesting array of crabs, mollusks, and other aquatic plants that have made their home in the colorful shores of Fort Bragg.