Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ha Ha Tonka State Park castle ruins

On our recent visit to the Lake of the Ozarks area in Missouri, we took the time to stop at Ha Ha Tonka State Park in Camdenton, Missouri to view the castle ruins.

Around 1900, Robert McClure Snyder, a prominent Kansas City businessman was so impressed with the beauty of the area that he began purchasing much of the surrounding land and eventually acquired over 5,000 acres.

Snyder dreamed of building a private retreat that would rival castles of Europe. He brought in stone masons from Scotland and a hired a European supervisor to ensure proper construction techniques.
Kansas City architect Adrian Van Brunt designed the three-and-a-half story masterpiece. The stone and timber used were taken from the vicinity of the construction site and were hauled by mule team. Construction began in 1905.

Also on the property were nine greenhouses, a stable and an 80 foot water tower, all built of the same stone and timber.
The water tower fell victim to vandals in the 70s, but still stands today.

Tragically, in 1906, Snyder was killed in an automobile accident. The interior of the castle remained unfinished until 1922 when Snyder's sons completed the upper floors of the building.

The Snyder family then faced years of adversity in trying to keep the property in the family. Eventually they leased the mansion to a Mrs. Ellis who operated it as a hotel.

In 1942, one of Ha Ha Tonka's fireplaces sparked a fire in the mansion. All that remains today are the walls on the edge of the cliff. The State of Missouri purchased the estate in 1978 and opened it to the public as a State Park.

Visiting the site and enjoying some of the 12 hiking trails, we were impressed by the beauty of the property. The views rival those that we saw when visiting the Rhine/Mosel valley in Koblenz, Germany.

Ha Ha Tonka State Park
1491 State Road D
Camdenton, MO 65020

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