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Glass Beach: Where Trash Turns into Treasure

Posted by alainaflute on September 27, 2012

To scoop or not to scoop? That is the question. Whether ’tis nobler to leave finds upon the water-lapped shores…or to just pick them up and bring them home. Beachcombing regulations. They exist. Know before you go.

Today’s Glass Beach

Although it is always important to leave living creatures alone on the beach, we’re not positive all regulations about picking up beach debris are real or enforced. Glass? Remnants of a dumpsite? That’s a little trickier. We at Beach Treasures and Treasure Beaches will always recommend that beach-goers follow the rules/regulations/laws of any given beach. On the other hand, it is hard to support hearsay. So, here’s some hearsay for you: You’re not supposed to pick up what you find on Glass Beach.

The “sand” of Glass Beach, Fort Bragg, California

Glass Beach (near Fort Bragg, California) has some lovely, man-made sand. It didn’t used to be quite so lovely. Residents used to shove their trash over the cliffs onto the beach below. In 1967, the North Coast Water Quality Board realized the error of this arrangement and plans were begun for a new dump site away from the ocean. Over the years, the waves tossed the trash into treasure: beach glass, namely. The beach is peppered with tiny pebbles, smoothed glass, polished china bits, and even the odd seashell. It’s rather tempting to scoop up a salt shaker amount of “sand.”

The old days at Glass Beach. (Note the rusted vehicle frame jutting out from the bluff.)

Glass Beach before the clean-up.

Glass Beach before the cleanup.

Much of what is known as Glass Beach is now part of MacKerricher State Park, and according to FortBragg.com, collecting is not allowed within the state park, but it is perfectly OK to collect outside of the state park boundaries.

Just a note:  The only regulation we could find against beachcombing that has been sited online is California Code of Regulations, Section 4308Archaeological Features, “No person shall remove, injure, disfigure, deface, or destroy any object of archaeological, or historical interest or value.” We found nothing on the official MacKerricher State Park website (or in the park brochure) that verifies this information. Are the pummeled fragments of glass on the beach an “object of archaeological or historical interest or value”?

Either way, Glass Beach is worth the visit!

You’ll find Glass Beach on California’s beautiful Mendocino Coast off of  Highway 1. In northern Fort Bragg, go west on Elm Street (at the Denny’s) to Old Haul Road. You’ll see an area for parking at the curve of West Elm and Old Haul. It’s a just short walk down a worn path to the beach.

*Tag team post by Alaina and Jody*

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4 Responses to “Glass Beach: Where Trash Turns into Treasure”

  1. S Joe said

    That adds one more to my “Places to Visit in USA” list.

  2. Ohhhh! I would love to go here!!

    • Jody said

      Cindy, you’d sooo love it here! It’s just north of Mendocino and Point Cabrillo Light Station (with the sunken shipwreck Frolic in the cove). The drive along the coast is really beautiful. There’s a great coastal trail just north of Fort Bragg called the Ten Mile Haul Road where there are nesting birds galore along the seashore. What’s not to love?! 🙂

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