There are several "glass beaches" in the world, and I've decided to dedicate blog posts to some of the more notable ones. Pretty much without fail, at least two or three folks at each event I attend will ask, "Have you been to that glass beach up there in Fort Bragg?" In short, no, I haven't. But since this particular glass beach has received so much attention from my fans, I thought this would be a perfect place to start my "Glass Beaches Around the World" blog series. Also, I was born and raised in California. So, it just makes sense.
As some of you may have noticed from poking around my website, I was born in the Sierra Nevada foothills, in a picturesque little town called Auburn. Founded in 1849, the year of the great gold rush, Auburn is the quintessential gold country town complete with old worn brick buildings that used to act as bank, general store, and fire station, that now make home to the usual antique and historical goodies stores that populate just about any historic American town.
Being that I grew up in Northern California, most find it odd that I never made it to the iconic Glass Beach in Fort Bragg. In rebuttal: for one, even though Fort Bragg and Auburn are both in Northern California, they are still a four hour drive apart (lest we forget that California is a very, VERY large state). For two, I did not developed my passion for seaglass until I moved to Ventura, CA, so it really didn't occur to me to make that four hour drive. But now that I am deeply entrenched in the seaglass world, and since Fort Bragg is all a lot of people want to talk to me about, I thought I would provide a little info on it here.
Nestled within Mendocino County resides the coastal town of Fort Bragg, with a population of approximately 7,300 folks. Pretty small. Mostly Fort Bragg is a tourist destination (every coastal town is a tourist destination) and for many the reason to visit is Glass Beach. Now here's an interesting fact. There's actually more than one Glass Beach in Fort Bragg *gasp!*
Most glass beaches are the beautiful result of an ugly inception: garbage dumping. In 1906, Fort Bragg began dumping appliances, discarded glass, and even vehicles onto what was known as "site 1". After this site was filled to the brim, they began creating their second garbage heap entitled "site 2" -their imagination was as strong as their environmental morals. Oh wait, it's the early 1900's what am I talking about?? There are no environmental concerns! Site 2 was the active dump site from 1943 - 1949, after which this site too, was filled and they had to make a third dump site.
This last dump site is what most now know as Glass Beach and was an active dump site until 1967, at which point someone with a brain decided that maybe it was not a good idea to be dumping garbage onto the beach and ultimately into the ocean. Now, I'm not inclined to give the exact location of these glass beaches for reasons of preservation. But I know you're smart and that if you wanted to you could look it up yourself and have a visit. I should warn you that collecting from these glass beaches is highly discouraged (though not illegal. I believe the MacKerricher State Parks boundaries do not actually include these glass beaches.) About 1,000 - 1,200 people visit these beaches every day in the summer -can you imagine if everyone took a handful home? There would be nothing left! So maybe just take pictures instead. And hey, if you do leave a comment here so we can see! Seriously, I don't know when I'll be able to get up there and I would love to see your photos.