Saturday, November 1, 2014

In California: Ft. Bragg's Oddity- "The Glass Beach"

Glass Beach.
Recycled By The Ocean.

In the early 1900s, Fort Bragg, California, 
Residents threw their household  garbage 
Over the cliffs above what is now Glass Beach. 
It is hard to imagine this happening today, 
But back then people dumped all kinds 
Of refuse straight into the ocean, 
Including old cars, and their household garbage, 
Which of course included lots of glass.
Beginning in 1949, the area around Glass Beach 
Became a public dump, and locals referred to it as The Dumps. 
Sometimes fires were lit to reduce the size of the trash pile (up to 30 feet high). 
However in 1967, the city leaders closed the area. 
Various cleanup programs were undertaken through the years 
To try to correct the damage, but without success.
Over the next 30 years the pounding waves cleaned the beach, 
By breaking down everything but glass and pottery. 
The pounding waves washed the trash up and down, back and forth.  
Tons of polished, broken glass were created by the pounding surf. 
These smoothened, coloured glass particles then settled 
Along the sea shore in millions, and so a magnificent beach was formed. 
The name was changed from, The Dump to what we currently know as, The Glass Beach.
The sea glass that was created is the product of a very long and interesting process. 
It can take anywhere from 10 to 30 years to make sea glass,
The name for any piece of glass that finds its way to the ocean 
And tumbles around in the water long enough 
To frost and smooth its surface.
Once it makes its way into the ocean, the glass is broken 
Up into shards and is tumbled around in the water, 
Where sand and other rocks act like sandpaper to smooth out its rough edges. 
Sometimes as the sea glass is passed through fire, it becomes fire glass, 
The rarest of sea glass with certain inclusions, just like precious gems.
In 1998, the private owner of the property determined that Glass Beach 
Should belong to the public and in 2002 it became part 
Of MacKerricher State Park, open to the public.  
Within a period of a few years the Glass Beach won fame, 
Attracting a large number of tourists every year.
Way back in time, people wanted to dump their glass products on this shore; 
Now they would try to get one of these pieces to take home as a souvenir. 
It is ironic but true that where once it was illegal to dispose the glass on the shore, 
It now is a crime to remove it. Visiting the Glass Beach today is a unique experience. 
What makes it even more remarkable, are the sounds produced by the glass pebbles 
As they are being washed away by the gentle waves.
For years, the water beat against the different kinds of trash being dumped.
Glass, household appliances and even motor parts were discarded on the beach.
The waves and weather conditions wore down the overwhelming amount of garbage in the water, creating millions of beautiful smooth rocks.
It was a disgusting dump due to our carelessness, but nature corrected what humans ruined.
The beach’s moniker was soon changed from The Dump to The Glass Beach, a more attractive name for the now-beautiful beach.
The Glass Beach and the surrounded twenty acres were purchased by the California State Park system and were incorporated into MacKerricher State Park.
The miraculous beach was finally under the protection of the state.
It’s hard to believe the short-sighted mistakes we were making that could have potentially ruined this beautiful spot.
But thanks to natural processes, the ocean transformed the trash into the sea glass.
Each colored gem on the beach has its own story.
The ruby red glass stones are typically from old car tail-lights.
Then, the sapphire rocks are the remnants of broken apothecary bottles.
The beach at Fort Bragg isn’t the only glass beach in the world, as strange and beautiful as it is.
There are other places in the world where Mother Nature put a stop to our foolishness.
If you want to see the sea glass for yourself, you can drive to Fort Bragg yourself and be in awe of the power of nature. Even if we didn’t mean to pollute the Glass Beach how we did, it’s inspiring to see just how hard the earth can correct our mistakes.



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