Ha Ha Tonka State Park

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Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Ha Ha Tonka State Park.jpg
The "castle" ruins at Ha Ha Tonka
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Location in Missouri
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Ha Ha Tonka State Park (the United States)
Location Camden County, Missouri, United States [1]
Coordinates 37°58′08″N92°46′09″W / 37.96889°N 92.76917°W / 37.96889; -92.76917 Coordinates: 37°58′08″N92°46′09″W / 37.96889°N 92.76917°W / 37.96889; -92.76917 [2]
Area3,751.74 acres (15.1828 km2) [3]
Elevation705 ft (215 m) [2]
Established1978 [4]
Visitors543,406(in 2017) [3]
OperatorMissouri Department of Natural Resources
Website Ha Ha Tonka State Park

Ha Ha Tonka State Park is a public recreation area encompassing over 3,700 acres (1,500 ha) on the Niangua arm of the Lake of the Ozarks, about five miles south of Camdenton, Missouri, in the United States. The state park's most notable feature is the ruins of Ha Ha Tonka, an early 20th-century stone mansion that was modeled after European castles of the 16th century.


The park also features caves, sinkholes, and bluffs overlooking the lake. It is a prominent example of karst topography, which is geological formation shaped by the dissolution of a layer or layers of soluble bedrock. [5] A 70-acre (28 ha) portion of the park was designated as the Ha Ha Tonka Karst Natural Area in 1981. [6]


Looking up at the Ha Ha Tonka ruins Looking Up at Ha Ha Tonka Ruins - panoramio.jpg
Looking up at the Ha Ha Tonka ruins

Construction of the Ha Ha Tonka castle was started in 1905 by Robert McClure Snyder, Sr., a Kansas City businessman who purchased the large property after first visiting there in 1903. Alluding to the natural springs on the property, "ha ha tonka" was said to mean "big laugh" or "smiling waters." [7]

Following Snyder's death in an auto accident in 1906, the castle was completed by his sons Robert, Jr., LeRoy, and Kenneth Snyder in the early 1920s before the Stock Market Crash. The building was used as a summer and weekend home by the Snyder family, who lived in Kansas City. In the late 1930s, it was used as a hotel; however, it was destroyed by fire in 1942. [8]

The state purchased the castle and grounds in 1978, adapting them for use as a state park and opening them to the public. The water tower was repaired in 2004, with a new roof installed. Although the castle walls were stabilized in the 1980s, a new survey in 2016 determined that portions of the ruins including its arches were seeing mortar and stone failure with the potential beginning of collapse. Some areas have been closed off from the public. [9] The ruins can be seen from an observation point across from the park office.

Activities and amenities

The park has 15 miles of hiking trails leading to caves, sinkholes, natural bridges, and the castle. The park also features boating, fishing, and swimming. [5]

Related Research Articles

Karst Topography from dissolved soluble rocks

Karst is a topography resulting from the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone, dolomite, and gypsum. It is characterized by such underground drainage features as sinkholes and caves. Where suitable conditions exist, the same dynamics have also been documented involving more weathering-resistant rocks, such as quartzite. Such subterranean drainage may limit surface water, resulting in few or no rivers or lakes; However, in regions where the dissolved bedrock is covered, distinctive karst features may occur only at subsurface levels, without ground-level manifestations.

Sinkhole Depression or hole in the ground caused by collapse of the surface into an existing void space

A sinkhole, also known as a cenote, sink, sink-hole, swallet, swallow hole, or doline, is a depression or hole in the ground caused by some form of collapse of the surface layer. Most are caused by karst processes – the chemical dissolution of carbonate rocks or suffosion processes. Sinkholes vary in size from 1 to 600 m both in diameter and depth, and vary in form from soil-lined bowls to bedrock-edged chasms. Sinkholes may form gradually or suddenly, and are found worldwide.

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  1. "Ha Ha Tonka State Park Visitors Center". Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved October 7, 2015.
  2. 1 2 "Ha Ha Tonka State Park". Geographic Names Information System . United States Geological Survey.
  3. 1 2 "Ha Ha Tonka State Park: Data Sheet" (PDF). Missouri Department of Natural Resources. November 2017. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  4. "State Park Land Acquisition Summary". Missouri State Parks. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  5. 1 2 "Ha Ha Tonka State Park". Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved September 29, 2014.
  6. "Ha Ha Tonka Karst Natural Area". Missouri Department of Conservation. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  7. "Camden County Place Names, 1928–1945". The State Historical Society of Missouri. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  8. "Ha Ha Tonka State Park: Park History". Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  9. Wilson, Amy (July 2, 2016). "Landmark ruin in need of repairs". Lake News Online. Retrieved April 24, 2018.