CELEBRATE THE OZARKS: Ha Ha Tonka Castle Ruins

CAMDENTON, Mo. -- One of the most iconic "non-lake" images from the Lake of the Ozarks region is the Castle Ruins at Ha Ha Tonka State Park in Camdenton.

In the early 1900s, a wealthy businessman from Kansas City named Robert Snyder fell in love with some land in Camdenton.

He wanted to build an escape there, a place for he and his family to visit, and eventually retire.

"Construction started in 1905, and in 1906, he died in one of Missouri's first automobile accidents," explained Ryan King, Natural Resource Manager at Ha Ha Tonka State Park.

Snyder never saw his dream come to life, but his family did. They lived in it on and off until 1937 when they leased it out as a hotel.

"In 1942, unfortunately, it burned, and that's sort of how it became a state park," King explained. "After it burned, it sat vacant for a long time, and State Parks originally picked up the area in 1978."

Now, it's a major attraction bringing in about half a million visitors every year.

But, just three years ago, the state park had to put a fence up around the castle, barring visitors from getting too close because the walls could be unstable.

"it was found in a study that the mortar is a little bit hard for the limestone, causing water to go through the stone rather than through the mortar," King said. "So, we're having some breakdowns in the joints, especially around the archways."

The state wants to make sure the castle is preserved...so it set aside nearly $1.3 million for a project to stabilize the historic ruins.

"The plan is they're going to come in, re-stabilize it. How that looks right now, we're not sure," King said. "We're still kind of in that design phase. We're hoping to wrap that up here in the fall with bids going out in the winter of 2019. The notice to proceed will hopefully go out in April 2020, with construction completion in fall of 2020."

The goal is to hopefully remove the fencing from the castle and keep the ruins in tact for years to come.

Read the original version of this article at www.ky3.com.