This is the tragic story of Ha Ha Tonka Castle. It is now a part of Ha Ha Tonka State Park. The park is located near the Lake of the Ozarks and the town of Camdenton in Missouri. Funny name? I think so. It’s said to mean “laughing spirit”, “big laugh” or “smiling waters”; referring to the natural springs on the property.
Here’s a photo of the castle when it was finished.
In case the text below is hard to read, I’ll copy it for you: “Snyder’s Legacy: At the beginning of the 1900’s, Robert McClure Snyder, a Kansas City businessman, bought over 5,000 acres and began construction of his dream-a magnificent European-style mansion or “castle”.
Stone masons from Scotland supervised local men hired to quarry the stone, haul it to the work site and lay the walls. They built the castle, stable and water tower with sandstone, limestone, walnut, oak and other materials quarried, cut and gathered on the property. “
“Snyder’s Plan: When Snyder planned his estate, it included many other improvements not in existence today. The architects’ designs for the house, barns, gates and walkways carried a cost estimate of $250,000 in 1906*. The castle originally over-looked a small spring-fed lake. In the 1920’s, Snyder’s sons fought to stop the construction of Bagnell Dam but failed. The resulting Lake of the Ozarks divided the 5,000-acre estate and consumed the small lake.” *I looked it up and $250,000 in 1906 would compare to $7,400,086 today.
From the photo of the water tower above: “(To your right is the 80-foot water tower ruins.) The first four floors were living quarters for the estate caretaker’s family. A large steel tank on the fifth floor held water for the estate. Vandals burned the interior in 1976. It was reroofed and stabilized in 1999.
One Man’s Dream: “…A stone stable, an 80-foot water tower and nine greenhouses were built to attend the main house.”
“By 1906, one year after construction began, Snyder was killed in an automobile accident.* The interior of the castle remained unfinished until his sons completed it in 1922. (16 years later.) *Documented as one of the first automobile fatalities in Kansas City.
On October 21, 1942, the castle and stable were destroyed by fire*. In 1976, the water tower was damaged by fire. Today, the stark exterior stone walls of the castle, stable and water tower are all that remain of one man’s dream.” *It’s said that it was started by a spark from one of the many fireplaces in the house.
The following are photos of the castle and tower today. Still incredible.
Something that I just now noticed in the photos above and below is the reflection of a cross on the wall in the center foreground. I don’t know where that reflection is coming from. The sun was going down, and it looks like a Celtic cross. So weird.
I think it’s still beautiful although in a sad way. For more information about the history of this place: Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Added to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Sense of Seeing.