Go There: Glass Beach, California

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Why you should care

Because this Mendocino beach shows us yet another way nature can transform.

Go There is an OZY series of video postcards from locations with an intriguing story.

People come from all over the world to visit the shores of Mendocino County, California, and take in their raw beauty. In the early 20th century, however, locals came to do something far more mundane: dump their garbage. The cliffs of Glass Beach were once a city dumping ground, where residents threw away everything from bottles and old shoes to appliances and even cars. “The Dumps,” as it was called back then, was finally shut down in 1967 and several cleanup programs ensued.

In the decades that followed, the ocean shore did a remarkable thing: It beautified itself. Relentless waves pounded the broken bottles and glass shards, and what was once refuse became little, shining glass gems. Now, beautiful colored pebbles intermingle with sand — as well as other eccentric bits of human lives gone by.

Go explore for yourself, but look, don’t take. The beach glass is now part of the natural landscape, and locals hope it won’t all disappear into the ocean — or the pockets of visitors.

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