Glass Beach

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While we were staying in Fortuna, California we heard rumors of a mystical beach that was made entirely of tumbled sea glass in Fort Bragg. Unicorns frolic in the surf and mermaids sing their siren call to sailors that pass by. Dolphins wear sombreros and strum huge guitars while jelly beans rain from the sky. These rumors caught our attention and bore further investigation.

Image from the early 1900's of the beach filled with trash.
Image from the early 1900’s of the beach filled with trash.

Before you get your hopes up, I should tell you that most of the above rumors aren’t true. There is however a glass beach. Between the years of 1906 to 1967 the citizens of Fort Bragg used the ocean as a landfill. They would throw their garbage over the cliffs and let the ocean take it away. Apparently in 1967 someone noticed that the ocean was beautiful and that we all depend on it to live and they said “hey maybe we shouldn’t dump all our garbage into the ocean.”

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Over the years, mother nature has overcome the years of abuse. Much of the garbage has deteriorated and been taken out to sea. The metal has rusted and worn away. All that remains is glass. Over the years the glass has been washed in and out by the ocean and now there is an amazing beach covered with polished glass (sans dolphins wearing sombreros.)

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The drive from Fortuna to Fort Bragg is 126 miles but it is a 2 hour 30 minute drive since a lot of the drive is through winding forests. Needless to say we had a lot of car sickness going on. One thing we have learned on this trip is to always have Ziploc bags with us.

We all thought the beach was worth the drive as it was so unique. Madelyn always finds a treasure in the form of a rock, or a shell, or a stick wherever we go, and she almost passed out with over-stimulation from seeing a beach full of polished glass treasures. I had warned her before hand that we wouldn’t be able to collect any so other people can see them, but she was still thrilled to collect glass in a pile and leave it for others to see.

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This was one of the favorite places we have visited because of the uniqueness of the experience.

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