The funny sounding name Ha Ha Tonka State Park is located along the Niangua arm of the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. High on a cliff overlooking the water are stone ruins from a massive structure built long ago.
In 1903 Kansas City businessman Robert Snyder purchased a large track of land in the Ozarks. A few years later he began construction of a castle that he named Ha Ha Tonka. He claimed the name meant “smiling waters”. Snyder hired stone masons from Europe to construct the beautiful and elaborate castle. Tragically during the construction Snyder was killed in one of Missouri’s first automobile accidents.
After his death in 1906, the castle was completed by his sons Robert, Jr., LeRoy, and Kenneth Snyder in the early 1920s. One of his son’s used the castle for his residence but the stock market crash, and lawsuits over property rights surrounding the castle, drained his savings. The castle was sold and used as a hotel. Sadly, in 1942, the once glamorous castle was destroyed by fire. In the 1970s the state purchased the property creating Ha Ha Tonka State Park. The park has stabilized the stone walls and preserved them as a reminder of days gone by.
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