Cruise Stop: Glass Beach

May 20, 2011 — Leave a comment

Three hours north of San Francisco, there’s a place I hope my cruise ship docks someday: Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, California [not to be confused with the army base by the same name which is in North Carolina.]

A hundred years ago, before the US had litterbug campaigns, street cleaners, and public trash cans, residents threw their garbage off the ocean cliffs. [Perhaps that’s where Arlo Guthrie got the idea.**] Everything got pitched over and landed in what became known as “The Dumps”. In the late 60s, the area was closed and cleanup was done. But by then, the beach itself had become covered with beach glass.

The beach is now part of MacKerricher State Park and it’s forbidden to collect the beach glass. Another case of trash turning into treasure.

**Arlo Guthrie wrote about his trash dumping exploits in the epic song “Alice’s Restaurant”:“Now it all started two Thanksgivings ago…when my friend and I went up to visit Alice at the restaurant, but Alice doesn’t live in the restaurant, she lives in the church nearby the restaurant…Havin’ all that room, seein’ as how they took out all the pews, they decided that they didn’t have to take out their garbage for a long time.

We got up there, we found all the garbage in there, and we decided it’d be
a friendly gesture for us to take the garbage down to the city dump. So
we took the half a ton of garbage put it in the back of a red VW
microbus, took shovels and rakes and implements of destruction and headed
on toward the city dump.

Well we got there and there was a big sign and a chain across across the
dump saying, “Closed on Thanksgiving.” And we had never heard of a dump
closed on Thanksgiving before, and with tears in our eyes we drove off
into the sunset looking for another place to put the garbage.

We didn’t find one. Until we came to a side road, and off the side of the
side road there was another fifteen foot cliff and at the bottom of the
cliff there was another pile of garbage. And we decided that one big pile
is better than two little piles, and rather than bring that one up we
decided to throw our’s down.”

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