The Glass Beach

7 November, 2011

Last summer, Charlie and I took a road trip to a mystery destination. We drove up the California coast, through redwoods and eucalyptus trees, to a small town called Fort Bragg. Charlie parked the car at the entrance to a beach, and ushered me down the rocky path to the water’s edge.


Looks like a perfectly normal beach, I don't un...

The whole damn beach, and the next one too


White, green, brown, blue, amber, occasional bits of china.

For some reason, the blue bits are much smaller than the other colours.

Can't... stop... collecting...

This magical place even has squirrels.

"I'm not trying to get into that rucksack over there. Not at all."


So what’s going on here? A look at the next cove provides some answers.

Nobody goes to this beach.

This beach is very different.

On closer inspection, the rocks here are not rock. They’re lumps of densely compacted, rust-coloured waste material shot through with shards of glass.

This is what you get if you dump all your rubbish and then set fire to it.

Glass shards embedded in... what, exactly?

Many years ago, the beach was used as a dumping ground by local residents. The waves have turned most of the glass to seaglass, but the sea hasn’t reached this cove. There are old tyres here, and abandoned concrete, and a huge pipe gushing water over the rubble.

What makes that green stuff so green?

Pretty and vaguely toxic at the same time.

The whole area has a strange atmosphere. Populations come and go, and their best intentions and worst mistakes are all subject to the forces of nature. Sometimes we like the results, sometimes we don’t, but it has nothing to do with us.

There's nothing living in that pool.

Feels like something happened here, too.

Yes, that's a sunbathing squirrel.

How far out does the seaglass go?


One comment

  1. […] of the seaglass was collected from Seapoint, Dublin and Fort Bragg, California. Difficult to […]

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