This came up due to a typo. One of our Daily Bulletin on Vacation photos depicted three women in front of the Great Wall of China, except the caption placed them at the Great Wall of Chino.
I understand Jay Leno poked fun at our flub in his "Headlines" feature. Perhaps to defend our newspaper's integrity, I decided to take the typo literally.
Does Chino have a Great Wall, I wondered?
Four nominations came in. Rochelle recommended the high, freestanding wall for the handball court behind Centro Basco.
Judith Abbott said the greatest wall surrounds the men's prison, a facility she dubbed "Chino's original gated community."
John Kramer suggested the long, low stone wall at El Prado golf course, a cart bridge that crosses the second hole of the Butterfield Stage course. He credits his friend Steve Klepper ("a great wit") for the name.
Kramer even sent me a chart comparing the Chino and China walls, which I'll share on my blog, along with photos.
The fourth nomination was from Linda Takeuchi.
A wall south of Ayala Park and the Chaffey College campus stretches all the way from Central to Euclid avenues. Takeuchi dropped off a disc of photos to illustrate her point.
OK, that's the clear winner. Gary George also chimed in with the same nomination - and he took me on a tour.
(A retired Verizon executive, Gary George, like yours truly, has two first names, allowing us to bond over our shared misery of misidentification.)
He drove me the length of the wall. It's almost certainly the longest wall in the entire Inland Valley. Even freeway sound walls have breaks, but not Chino's; no roads interrupt it.
A Chino resident, George is an elected Chaffey College board member, by the way.
"Even we call it the Great Wall of Chino," George told me.
Well, that makes it official.
The story begins after a successful 2002 bond, Measure L, raised $230 million on behalf of various Chaffey projects, among them a permanent Chino campus, and after the state sold 100 acres of surplus land north of the Chino Institution for Men for $1.
Developers began building the massive College Park housing development near the roomy new campus. But having inmates as perhaps not-quite-distant-enough neighbors might have been an issue.
"A lot of people didn't want to look in on the prison," George said. "They started building the wall."
Unlike China's version, Chino's has no battlements, watch towers or soldiers. The wall is aesthetic, not militaristic.
We started our tour on the Euclid end on Merrill Avenue, taking the prison's access road, Cypress Avenue, which parallels the south side of the wall. Rooftops are visible on the opposite side.
We couldn't drive all the way to Central Avenue because of the prison entry. So we turned around, went back to Euclid and drove west on Edison Avenue, an east-west street north of the wall.
We passed upscale homes and townhomes in tidy neighborhoods with such names as Auburn, Charleston, Wellesley and Westmont. Some have sold for more than $1 million, even with dairy cows (and flies) across the street.
College Park has nearly 700 homes, about one-third of the 2,200 anticipated at completion.
We pulled into the Chaffey campus, got out and looked at the wall. It angles there, but other than a short section over a wash, where it's more of a gate, the wall is unbroken.
We drove west along College Park Avenue, the wall continuing next to a public sidewalk to our left, Ayala Park and its soccer fields to our right.
At Central Avenue, the wall finally ends.
I was curious how many miles long the wall is, so we watched the odometer starting at Central and headed east back to Euclid. We passed the YMCA, Edison transformers, small horse properties, a Baptist church, the Chaffey campus - now 3,000 students and planned to grow to 15,000 - and new homes.
If you tour the wall, you get a cross-section of Chino, old and new.
"As the crow flies," George said, the length is 2.1 miles. With the bends, it's a bit longer at 2 ¼ miles, according to City Hall.
Could one walk its length?
"You could walk the whole wall," George mused, "but you'd have to be well-balanced. It's not as wide as the real one."
Or you could try it on the ground, which is what I meant, although that might require trespassing through backyards.
Let's do a quick comparison of the two Great Walls.
Length - China: 13,000 miles; Chino: a bit under 13,000 feet.
Height - China: 16 feet; Chino: 8 to 14 feet.
Width - China: up to 16 feet; Chino: 10 inches.
Materials - China: stone, bricks, mud; Chino: blocks.
Construction period - China: 2,400 years; Chino: 10 years.
Souvenir sellers - China: hundreds; Chino: none.
No wonder we're falling behind the Chinese.
The Great Wall of China is said to run east to west, making my east-to-west tour with George historically accurate. We started on the eastern leg simply because that allowed us to have lunch at Taylor's Cafe.
So, Chino has a Great Wall after all. Those three "Daily Bulletin on Vacation" women could have saved a lot of money by visiting Chino instead.
David Allen plays tourist Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Reach him at email@example.com or 909-483-9339, read his blog at dailybulletin.com/davidallenblog, check out facebook.com/davidallencolumnist and follow @davidallen909 on Twitter.