I am looking out at a gorgeous kelp-filled cove on the Northern California coast. Waves crash on jagged rocks, quarrelsome seabirds swoop and dive over the foam, and the tidepools around me teem with anemones, crabs, and tiny, tiny fish. This place appears as wild and pristine as any spot on the American seashore.
Until I look down at my feet. Because I am standing on an engine block.
At least I think that’s what it is. Some sort of geared mechanism is clearly visible inside a larger, rusty outline. But the whole thing is barely distinguishable from the surrounding rocks. It’s as though it’s being digested by the earth.
This is what is now known as Glass Beach in Mendocino County’s Fort Bragg. Until 1967, this land, owned by a lumber company, was referred to as “the Dumps.” Here, local citizens tossed the crap they were done using, including cars, appliances, and apparently a lot of empty bottles. Sometimes they lit the piles of refuse on fire.
Eventually the good people of Fort Bragg decided that the cove might be better off as something other than an enormous tra... Read more