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 before climate change awareness, 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 other city leaders closed the area, and various cleanup programs were undertaken through the years to correct the damage. Over the next several decades, the ceaseless Pacific waves weathered the discarded glass into the smooth, beautiful colored trinkets that cover the beach today.
In 2002, the California State Park system purchased the 38-acre Glass Beach property, and it was later incorporated into MacKerricher State Park. Although many people go to the beach to forage for glass and washed-up treasure, this is actively discouraged, and signs in the area warn that removing glass is prohibited.