Hampton Park

Many a crackpot scheme has found eager supporters and even willing investors, if it could just be marketed in the right way to the right audience. There are still, even today, those who believe that the world is flat, or hollow (although there doesn’t seem to be anyone who believes it to be both). These people, peculiar beliefs though they may have, are models of sanity and restraint compared to the brains trust that founded Hampton Park.

In the 1840s, the theory of continental drift was in its infancy, and notion of deep time was still poorly understood by those brought up to believe that God the Almighty had created the world in six days, then settled down with a slab on the seventh. It is any wonder that there were people who thought that geographical features might well move as fast as ship at sail, or a horse at full gallop? Kevin Taverner was such a man, and he had the wit and charisma to persuade others to see things the same way. Left to his own devices, he might have been nothing more than a footnote to the history of science. But the last thing his business partner Michael Bray intended to do was leave him to obscurity.

Bray saw that Taverner’s followers were willing to pay great sums in to help their leader achieve his goals. So Bray set out to persuade Taverner that his theories were not only true, but monetizable – and Taverner was convinced. Thus it was that the creation of Hampton Park was announced. It was to be a carefully tended area designed to magnetically attract geographical features with the intent of creating a profitable vacation spot. The features in particular that they sought, as might be inferred from the name, were the Hamptons of New York state, which Taverner told his supporters were a particularly scenic mountain range. There were only three small problems with this plan: the Hamptons are in fact a series of coastal villages on Long Island, not mountains; even if they were mountains, continental drift doesn’t work that way; and finally, Bray was a con man who embezzled almost all of the money Taverner raised (it is widely assumed that the small monthly stipend that was mailed anonymously to Taverner for the next three decades was sent by Bray to assuage his thieving conscience).

Suburbs near Hampton Park: