In the early 20th century, Fort Bragg residents threw their household garbage over cliffs onto what is now Glass Beach, discarding glass, appliances, and even vehicles. Locals referred to it as "The Dumps".
The area was closed in 1967. Various cleanup programs were undertaken through the years to correct the damage. Over the next several decades the pounding waves cleaned the beach, by breaking down everything but glass and pottery and tumbling those into the small, smooth, colored pieces that cover Glass Beach.