a tragedy, a park to explore
Ha Ha Tonka offers more than castles
by Jeff Joiner
Ha Ha Tonka State Park is truly
one of Missouri's historic and natural gems.
Many people are familiar with
the remains of the castle high on a bluff above Lake of the Ozarks near
Camdenton. The frosty view of the lake from the ruins of the castle are
shown at right.
Wealthy Kansas City businessman
Robert M. Snyder fell in love with the area in 1903 and bought 5,000 acres
to create a private retreat. Construction on the European-style castle
began in 1905 and was stopped with Snyder's death the next year.
A son finished the project
and it was leased as a hotel until 1942 when tragedy struck. A fire gutted
the castle, eventually leaving only the walls which remain standing today.
Because of the site's natural
beauty and interesting history it was made a state park in 1978. The park
contains numerous boardwalks, trails and scenic overlooks as well as caves
and sinks, which are the collapsed roofs of caves. Trails also lead from
the castle down to Ha Ha Tonka Spring 250 feet below.
Ha Ha Tonka State Park is a
few miles south of Camdenton and just off Highway 54. The park has a visitor's
center with maps and more information. You can also call (573) 346-2986;
or write the park at Rt. 1, Box 113M, Camdenton, MO 6502