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Rural Missouri Magazine

 

From a tragedy, a park to explore
Ha Ha Tonka offers more than castles

photo 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

 

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