A fraud that will rock your world: OC's 241 toll road boulder is a fake

ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. (KABC) -- Thousands of drivers pass by it every day, but little do they know Orange County's mysterious rock is a fraud.

Toll roads aren't really known for their scenery. While traveling on them, you're bound to see cars, some trucks and plenty of traffic signs.

But if you've driven Orange County's 241 toll road and looked beyond the rust-colored wildlife fencing, you may have noticed a giant boulder.

"We have a huge amount of people who look at that and know this is the pinnacle rock area," said Paul Bopp. "You can see it especially if you're going north or south on the road."

Bopp works for the Transportation Corridor Agencies which runs the toll roads in Orange County.

The view is nice, and the rock is huge.

"After looking at it for 20 years from the roadway, when you get up here it's a lot bigger than you think it is," he said.

It even has a name. "This is known as Bennett rock," Bopp said.

What more people don't realize is that Bennett rock is not a rock. It is man-made and completely hollow.

It's a replacement for the real rock that stood here during construction of the toll road. The toll road's chief engineer, Jerry Bennett, wanted to preserve it.

"We had some really heavy El Nino rains that year and this rock toppled down into the canyon below," Bopp said. The toll road contractor had his crew build a new boulder.

"It took three men three weeks," he said. "They brought the material up here, the rebar, the concrete, the mesh and built it."

That occurred in 1998, nearly two decades ago. But the 241 rock is still rocking it.

"For the last 20 years, I don't think we've had anyone call in to the toll road and say that's a fake rock up there," Bopp said. "It really looks like an original rock."

Keep your eyes peeled just south of Santiago Canyon where the rock lies: in more ways than one.
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