Glass Beach (Fort Bragg, California)

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Glass Beach near Fort Bragg, California

Glass Beach is a beach in MacKerricher State Park near Fort Bragg, California that is abundant in sea glass created from years of dumping garbage into an area of coastline near the northern part of the town.[1]


A small wave on the beach

In the early 20th century, Fort Bragg residents threw their household garbage over cliffs owned by the Union Lumber Company onto what is now Glass Beach, discarding glass, appliances, and even vehicles.[2] Locals referred to it as "The Dumps."[3] Fires were lit to reduce the size of the trash pile.[3]

The California State Water Resources Control Board and city leaders closed the area in 1967.[2][3] Various cleanup programs were undertaken through the years to correct the damage. Over the next several decades the pounding waves cleaned the beach, by breaking down everything but glass and pottery and tumbling those into the small, smooth, colored pieces that cover Glass Beach.[3]

There are three Glass Beach sites in Fort Bragg where trash was dumped into ocean between 1906 and 1967. Glass Beach Site Two and Three (1943–49) are located at the end of the path that begins on the corner of Elm Street and Glass Beach Drive. These sites are accessible by foot and by a short climb down the cliffs surrounding the beach. Site One (1906–43) is south of Sites Two and Three and can only be accessed by water because there is no trespassing on the cliffs above the cove.[4]

In 1998, the private owner of the property determined that Glass Beach should belong to the public, and began a five year process of working with the California Coastal Conservancy and the California Integrated Waste Management Board for the cleanup and sale of the property to the state. Following completion of the clean up, the California Department of Parks and Recreation purchased the 38-acre (15 ha) Glass Beach property, and it was incorporated into MacKerricher State Park in October 2002.[5]


Some of the rounded glass

The beach is now frequently visited by tourists.[3] Collecting is not permitted on the park's beach,[2] although sea glass can be found on other local beaches outside the park boundary.[6] A Glass Festival is held annually on Memorial Day weekend.[7]

Thousands of tourists visit Fort Bragg's glass beaches each day in the summer. Most collect some glass. Because of this and also because of natural factors (wave action is constantly grinding down the glass), the glass is slowly diminishing. There is currently a move to replenish the beaches with discarded glass.[8]

Similar beaches are found at Benicia, California and Hanapepe, Hawaii.

Plants and animals[edit]

Several endangered and protected native plants occur at Glass Beach including hybrid Menzies’ wallflower.[5]


  1. ^ Mihai, Andrei (October 10, 2011). "Glass beach, California". ZME Science. Retrieved February 11, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c "Glass Beach". Explore. Mendocino County. 2012. Retrieved 22 December 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Kim, Susan C. (16 February 2006). "From trash to treasure". CNN Travel. CNN. Retrieved 22 December 2012. 
  4. ^ "Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, California: A Sea Glass Lover’s Dream". 16 May 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2015. 
  5. ^ a b "Glass Beach". The Mendocino Land Trust. 2011. Retrieved 22 December 2012. 
  6. ^ "Glass Beach & Pudding Creek Headlands-Look But Don’t Take". Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, Mendocino Coast. Mendocino Fun. 2012. Retrieved 22 December 2012. Please Note: The northern section of Glass Beach is a State Park (north of the path) and unfortunately, they frown upon you removing the glass. Sorry! It's kind of like a beautiful flower - stop, enjoy, appreciate its beauty - but don't take it - so that the next person that comes behind you can smell its sweet fragrance too! But, if you explore south or (turn left) at the bluffs edge, you'll find a walking path down to other beaches of glass that have amazing collections of sea glass, you're OK to take a few pieces. 
  7. ^ Forrington, J. H. (May 25–26, 2012). "Fifth Annual Fort Bragg Sea Glass Festival". Fort Bragg Sea Glass Festival. Retrieved 22 December 2012. Please do not be deterred by rumors that sea glass collecting is forbidden "here". It is perfectly legal. Visitors are asked to be selective, however, leaving "un-ripe" and chipped glass where they find it. The Park Rangers will tell you there is no collecting permitted within the park, but the park area is nearly depleted and now accounts for only about 1% or less of the glass in town. It is the least desirable collecting location on the entire coast. Though it has the highest concentration, Fort Bragg is not the only coastal community with great collecting. If you want to spend some time here, the other communities are great fun, too. 
  8. ^ "Fort Bragg Glass Beach". Retrieved 24 February 2015. 

Coordinates: 39°27′10″N 123°48′49″W / 39.45269°N 123.8135°W / 39.45269; -123.8135