Family's history lives on at mid-Missouri's very own castle ruins

2 years 6 months 2 weeks ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 7:05:00 AM CST November 18, 2017 in News
By: Kristen Reesor, KOMU 8 Digital Producer
loading

CAMDENTON - The place a man envisioned as his retreat away from the hustle and bustle of regular life now sees more than 500,000 visitors a year. It's the Castle Ruins at Ha Ha Tonka State Park in Camdenton.

History of the Castle Ruins

In the early 1900s, wealthy Kansas City businessman Robert Snyder bought a large estate in what is now the state park. His mission: to build a grand, three-story, 60-room, European style mansion to serve as his summer and retirement home. He also planned to host guests so they could bask in the beauty of the rolling hills and natural springs the landscape offered.

The mansion's construction crew consisted of around 100 workers, including Scottish stone masons to quarry and shape the sandstone just right. Workers used sandstone, oak, walnut and cedar from the surrounding land.

Snyder never lived to see his dream home finished. He died in a car wreck in 1906, and his sons took over construction. They did not complete the mansion until 1922.

Jacob Bryant, an interpretative research specialist at the park, said "They still never completed it as intricately as their father imagined."

The Snyder's use of their new mansion did not last long. In the years after the mansion was completed, the Snyder sons fought a lengthy legal battle to stop the construction of Bagnell Dam and the creation of the Lake of the Ozarks.

They lost the fight, and the new lake flooded more than 100 acres of their estate, as well as farmland and a handful of towns such as Old Linn Creek.

With homes and livelihoods underwater, Bryant said, "This place became sort of a deserted landscape."

Bryant said the Snyder's lost interest in the mansion, or castle as some people referred to it.

One version of the story says the family's money ran out because of the lawsuits, and poverty, coupled with depression, led the son who lived there to leave for good.

More misfortune struck the castle in 1942. It was a hotel at the time. An ember from one of the castle's chimneys set the cedar roof on fire, and the entire structure was quickly in flames.

Hotel staff and guests couldn't save the castle.

"Being three stories tall and no fire brigade to come out and extinguish the flame, they were limited to pretty much a bucket brigade," Bryant said.

The property was a no-man's land after the fire, Bryant said, until Missouri State Parks bought the property in 1978 and created Ha Ha Tonka State Park.

Visiting the Ruins

The park had more than 530,000 visitors in 2016, making it one of the top ten most visited Missouri state parks. In addition to the castle ruins, the park has hiking trails, boating access, fishing spots and more. But the iconic feature of the park is the castle.

Tim and Denise Allegri are regular visitors to the ruins. The couple said they come every year for their anniversary, and have brought their children several times.

"We usually come here about this time in the fall, and we'll do a Christmas picture with the scenery in the background," Denise Allegri said.

She said the Snyders were an interesting family from what she has read about them. She enjoys visiting the ruins of their old home.

"It makes you stop and wonder what all went on, wonder about the fire that happened here, the people that lived here."

The last time the Allegri's came to the ruins, they could get up close to them and sit on the stone window sills. Now a fence surrounds the ruins.

"This building is fabulous, unfortunately it's kinda falling apart," Tim Allegri said.

Preservation for the future

The fence is for visitor's safety, Bryant said. A few stones have fallen off the castle. He said park employees are not aware of anyone getting hurt by the falling rocks, and they want to keep it that way.

Bryant said the state park system had a restoration survey of the ruins done in 2015 to identify problems with the stone walls. The next step is to have another company guide the park through how to fix those problems. Then the park can request funding fo restoration and preservation projects.

"We really wanna keep the castle as it sits a ruin, to an extent, because it's how we came about the property," Bryant said. "We don't want it to reduce to rubble."

Bryant said the park would hate to see the castle become lost over time because it is a major draw.

"People come here because they've heard of the castle and then they fall in love with it because of the entire Snyder estate and the fact that you have all these unique, natural features around the park."

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - Police brutality protests continue in downtown Columbia on Saturday night. Over 150 protesters made their way down... More >>
3 hours ago Saturday, June 06 2020 Jun 6, 2020 Saturday, June 06, 2020 7:51:00 PM CDT June 06, 2020 in News
(CNN) -- George Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd , will testify before Congress on Wednesday during a House Judiciary Committee hearing... More >>
4 hours ago Saturday, June 06 2020 Jun 6, 2020 Saturday, June 06, 2020 6:30:32 PM CDT June 06, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia residents marched Saturday in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The president... More >>
4 hours ago Saturday, June 06 2020 Jun 6, 2020 Saturday, June 06, 2020 6:09:00 PM CDT June 06, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA (Missourian) - Employees making over $60,000 in the MU athletics department will take a three-month pay cut beginning... More >>
5 hours ago Saturday, June 06 2020 Jun 6, 2020 Saturday, June 06, 2020 5:44:27 PM CDT June 06, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA (Missourian) - The principal of Rock Bridge High School will host a Zoom meeting Sunday to listen to... More >>
5 hours ago Saturday, June 06 2020 Jun 6, 2020 Saturday, June 06, 2020 5:36:00 PM CDT June 06, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA (Missourian) - The first round of open state testing in six counties around the state has resulted in... More >>
5 hours ago Saturday, June 06 2020 Jun 6, 2020 Saturday, June 06, 2020 5:29:44 PM CDT June 06, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Revenue collections in Missouri continue to drop because of the coronavirus. State Budget Director Dan... More >>
5 hours ago Saturday, June 06 2020 Jun 6, 2020 Saturday, June 06, 2020 5:21:29 PM CDT June 06, 2020 in News
BRENTWOOD (KSDK-TV) — A man has been charged with driving through a crowd of peaceful protesters in suburban St. Louis... More >>
5 hours ago Saturday, June 06 2020 Jun 6, 2020 Saturday, June 06, 2020 5:16:06 PM CDT June 06, 2020 in News
KANSAS CITY (The Kansas City Star) — An attorney is defending a Missouri woman who withdrew from the University of... More >>
6 hours ago Saturday, June 06 2020 Jun 6, 2020 Saturday, June 06, 2020 4:54:26 PM CDT June 06, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - MU employees and Missouri union workers marched through MU's campus on Saturday to deliver their list of demands... More >>
8 hours ago Saturday, June 06 2020 Jun 6, 2020 Saturday, June 06, 2020 2:49:00 PM CDT June 06, 2020 in News
As COVID-19 continues to spread, KOMU 8 will continue to update you about the impacts in the community. ... More >>
8 hours ago Saturday, June 06 2020 Jun 6, 2020 Saturday, June 06, 2020 2:16:00 PM CDT June 06, 2020 in News
WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden formally clinched the Democratic presidential nomination Friday, setting him up for a bruising challenge to... More >>
1 day ago Friday, June 05 2020 Jun 5, 2020 Friday, June 05, 2020 9:45:00 PM CDT June 05, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - This week KOMU 8 will air a longform discussion among local law enforcement leaders, a community activist and... More >>
1 day ago Friday, June 05 2020 Jun 5, 2020 Friday, June 05, 2020 9:16:00 PM CDT June 05, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA — Stephanie Browning, director of Columbia and Boone County's Public Health and Human Services, wrote a letter to the... More >>
1 day ago Friday, June 05 2020 Jun 5, 2020 Friday, June 05, 2020 9:02:00 PM CDT June 05, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY – About 20 people gathered in front of the Jefferson City Police Department on Friday to fight racial... More >>
1 day ago Friday, June 05 2020 Jun 5, 2020 Friday, June 05, 2020 8:40:00 PM CDT June 05, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA —The Boone County Fair has been canceled for the 2020 season, according to a news release from the... More >>
1 day ago Friday, June 05 2020 Jun 5, 2020 Friday, June 05, 2020 8:17:23 PM CDT June 05, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - For protesters across the country, social distancing isn't what's on their mind when they protest. It's George... More >>
1 day ago Friday, June 05 2020 Jun 5, 2020 Friday, June 05, 2020 7:01:00 PM CDT June 05, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - Ty Gramley, of Columbia, was sentenced to 5 years in prison after pleading guilty to possession of child... More >>
1 day ago Friday, June 05 2020 Jun 5, 2020 Friday, June 05, 2020 6:13:05 PM CDT June 05, 2020 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 79°
12am 76°
1am 75°
2am 74°
3am 71°