A glass beach. A beach made of layers and layers of smooth sea glass. I had to see it.
The first time up the coast of California on the 101, I marked the beach down as a place I wanted to see. It would have to be in the van as the RV would be slow and stressful driving the winding HWY 1 – the scenic road next to the ocean.
The second time I missed Glass Beach was going down the coast of California. Again, no time to park the RV and take the van for a 2 1/2 hour drive from the campsite to the ocean and back. I thought I had missed my chance.
Then, the west coast was a go for a second summer! I was heading back up the coast of California to Washington state. I was going to see this place they called Glass Beach. I wanted to know what such a world would look like. A beach. A beach of glass.
The locals tell stories of years gone by with endless glass on the beach. Some are surprised to hear there is any glass left as people used to visit and leave with buckets loaded to the brim. Once a location to dump garbage, it is now a place to see beauty.
History of Glass Beach
- In 1906 Fort Bragg established “Site 1” as an official water dump site for discarded glass, appliances, and even vehicles. When this filled they moved to “Site 2” and “Site 3 or Glass Beach.”
- “Site 3” now called “Glass Beach” closed in 1967.
- Cleanup programs rid the area of metal and trash leaving behind pieces of pottery and glass to be washed by the ocean.
- In 2002 MacKerricher State Park obtained some of the “Site 3 or Glass Beach” property from a private owner.
- Collecting is discouraged on “Glass Beach” within and adjacent to the state park. Fort Bragg posts it is against the law which is confusing. It seems from my reading that by law the glass found below the mean high water mark cannot be owned by the state regardless. And the majority of sea glass is located below this mark.
- Most of the sea glass resides in the newly renovated city park area next to the state park land in “Site 1” and “Site 2.”
- 1,000 to 1,200 tourists visit Fort Bragg’s glass beaches each day.
- Most visitors collect glass which along with the ocean grinding down the glass is diminishing the beaches. I believe this is why collecting is being discouraged.
- A movement has been started to replenish the glass and to continue the beauty of the site.
- Learn more about the history of Glass Beach.
Sea Glass Beach
The wash of the ocean against glass is more calming like a massage. I feel the cool glass upon my feet as the only person among the crowd smart enough or stupid enough to choose experiencing it barefoot. I dig with the enthusiasm of a toddler at the beach. I marvel – pieces with letters on them, painted flowers from old dishes, various colors, all smooth. Such joy and awe.
It is difficult for me to leave this space as I rest on the driftwood tree, worn by wind and sea. I breathe in the space and release tension. A moment I can not soak in enough. I want to stay.
Let’s just stay awhile. Come with me and experience Glass Beach.