A dump until the 1960s, Glass Beach underwent massive cleanup projects in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, but the glass from bottles and other items remained, worn smooth over time as it tumbled through the ocean.
Located in Fort Bragg, in Northern California, it’s one of Mendocino County’s most popular tourist attractions and one of the most abundant sources of sea glass in the world. But if you want to see this California treasure, go now, because there’s a chance it won’t be around for much longer.
Everybody is taking the glass and collecting it, so there’s not as much as there used to be.
In fact, even though removing sea glass from the beach is prohibited, rangers from California State Parks, which owns the beach, see people taking the smooth, pebble-like glass pieces home in Ziploc bags and buckets all the time.
We witnessed it ourselves during our visit. They try to stop people who fill up canisters as large as trashcans with sea glass, but there’s only so much they can prevent.
The locals will tell you that the beach used to be covered in a foot of sea glass so smooth you could walk on it with bare feet, but these days there are sections of the 38-acre beach where glass is difficult to come by.
Many say their only hope is to spread the word about the beach and what’s threatening it, crossing their fingers that people will begin minding the signs that say “glass collecting prohibited.”
For many, the destruction of Glass Beach is ironic, as it was the human penchant for destruction that created the beach in the first place. Without human waste, the beach would never have existed.
For now, Glass Beach remains—and here’s to hoping we humans can keep it that way.