In the early 20th century, Fort Bragg residents threw their household garbage over the cliffs above what is now Glass Beach. They discarded glass, appliances, and even cars onto the land below.
At the time, the area was owned by the Union Lumber Company, and locals referred to it as "The Dumps." In the grand tradition of pre-global warming, fires were lit to reduce the size of the trash pile, as the beach began to accumulate a massive amount of rubbish.
In 1967, the North Coast Water Quality Board and city leaders closed the area and various cleanup programs were undertaken through the years to correct the damage. Over the next several decades the pounding waves cleansed the beach, wearing down the discarded glass into the small, smooth, colored trinkets that cover the beach today. As the Pacific Ocean bombarded the beach, it weathered down the trash into something beautiful.
In 2002, the California State Park system purchased the 38-acre (150,000 m2) Glass Beach property, and after cleanup it was incorporated into MacKerricher State Park. Although many people go to the beach to forage for glass and washed up treasure, it is actively discouraged and signs state that removing glass is not allowed.