Intelligent Energy

Want beautiful trash? Come to Glass Beach, Calif.

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The air is fresh and clean, and the "pebbles" have a certain sheen. Check out this photo essay to see what we mean. Learn what happens a century after you use your beach as the city dump.

Inside a jeweler's box of materials? Not quite.  It's a shot of what's lying on the beach at MacKerricher State Park.

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What do you get a century after you use your local beach as the city dump? The answer is "beautiful garbage" if Glass Beach in northern California is anything to go by.

Check out the photos on this page, and appreciate the soft-sheen beauty of the worn and weathered scraps of glass that have washed up pebble-like at the coastal MacKerricher State Park, just above Fort Bragg.

Ass on Glass: These people are sitting on worn down shards. Fortunately for them, no one generally hurls toasters, bottles and Model T's off the cliff anymore.

The glass landed on the shores in the early 20th century, when residents would routinely chuck their refuse over a cliff, according to Wikipedia.

"They discarded glass, appliances, and even cars," the free online encyclopedia writes. It begs the question of what a sea-beaten Model T might look like by now. But never mind. Just try to imagine the toasters, carburetors and bottles flying around, and appreciate what's there today.

The Union Lumber Company owned this stretch of coast at the time. A group called the North Coast Water Quality Board closed the area in 1967. Cleanups followed, including a push in 1998 by the California Coastal Conservancy and the California Integrated Waste management Board. Private owners sold the 38-acre site in 2003 to the California State Park system, which made Glass Beach part of of MacKerricher. No dumping today, so if you go, leave your old blender at home.

Finishing Stages: These glass trinkets sit in the buffing machine - the ocean - for a  final touch up.

Photos from Jef Poskanzer via Wikimedia.

If glass isn't your beach thing, drive up the coast for something else bobbing around the sea:

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Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure