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Glass Beach: Long Time Passing

Over the weekend the kiddo, who is now the ripe ol' age of seven and I had some extra time after playing and before dinner. I asked him if he's like to go to the Pudding Creek Trestle or to Glass Beach. "Glass Beach!" So that's where we went. It being July in Fort Bragg, parking was tricky but we found a spot, wrapped our sweatshirts around our waists "justincase" and hit the trail.

As we walked passed the trash cans and the locked gate, I noticed the heaping piles of blackberry briars had been mowed down to a foot high. Typically in the summer and since as far back as I can remember, the briars were a source of pie making berries and also a place to the coastal homeless to get some shelter from the wind. I talked about this with the kiddo. He asked how I knew about the people living in there. I told him I had happened across blankets and bedding while berry picking over the years, forts that were not really forts.

It was quiet for the next little while on the walk. Then we got to the fork in the road. That's when we saw this:


The kiddo has been reading for a while now so the lower sign brought a pretty sad emotional reaction that I will not describe further because I don't need to. We followed the north trail to an edge in the path where the soft sandstone is in a quick erosion process. I had him stay on the north side of me so he did not surf down the face on an overhang.

We stood overlooking the high tide crashing over the rocks into the shallow algae pond, the remaining pieces of dirty glass covered in sandstone silt and the dedicated tourists playing in the water next to the heaps of stinky rotting seaweed and the flies that love it so much.

For the kiddo, it's a lesson in change I think. For me, it has been a strange process of harvesting yesteryear's trash from the sea since I was a kid. Don't ask me to tell you how many ceramic-covered spark plugs I gathered as a kid because I could not tell you. I get that the only reason there is sea glass there at all is because a while back, people would back their pickups off the cement wall and toss all their trash right into the sea.

Granted, this was mostly the era before plastics but look at all the glass, auto parts, spark plugs and who knows what else. The ceramic and the glass we see but remember the metal re-bar coming out of the ceramic slabs and what looked like actual car parts encased in rock? Never mind the orange puddles that you hoped were just rust.

I am of two minds about it. I liked collecting treasures from glass beach as a kid but from what I understand, the City decided after inquiring that "restocking" the beach with glass was not a good idea.

So for your viewing pleasure, here is a blog post dedicated to Glass Beach and all it's glory by Travis Burke with beautiful photographs.




  1. bill francisco November 26, 2013

    the beach is very cool. In my wanderings I found another one in Hayward Ca. I don’t know it’s history but it appears to be a landfill/dump on the San Francisco Bay shore.

    • Jessica Ehlers Post author | November 26, 2013

      Hi Bill and thanks for you post. This beach is located in Fort Bragg, CA. I had no idea there was a beach like this in Hayward, too. It’s been a strange local spot for as long as I can remember. It’s weird to think it will be gone but I suppose the ethics of “restocking” are now littering. Speaking of littering: “You can get anything you want at Alice’s restaurant.” Cheers!

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