Monday, July 7, 2014

Ha Ha Tonka State Park

For several months, a good friend of mine, Joy, and I had been planning a get together at a mid-way point between us . . . Ha Ha Tonka state park! We had never been there, but she and her family had visited part of the park before.

Finally the long awaited day arrived, and the weather was simply beautiful for July with a perfect temperature for being outdoors and hiking. My Mom, Leah and I drove down and met her and her oldest daughter, Elyse, at a picnic area along the Lake of the Ozarks and had lunch and visited before beginning to explore some of the trails.

At the picnic area

The first place we wanted to see was the 'castle' so we drove to where the start of that trail was and began the climb upwards . . . 

Leah, Mom, Joy and Elyse . . . we had such a fun time together!


You can tell we're in the Ozarks! :)

Looking down from the trail at the top of the hill

 The 'castle' is the main attraction of Ha Ha Tonka, and as you can see in the sign below, construction first began on it in 1905, it was completed in 1922, and a fire destroyed it in 1942 . . .

Seeing how much this man put into his dream of this impressive earthly structure only to die a year after construction began and never even seeing its completion was sobering. Granted I do not know the circumstances nor his reasons for building it, but it reminded me of the passage in Luke about the man who kept enlarging his storehouses and laying up treasure on earth, yet that very night his "soul [was] required of" him.

And for the man that built this castle, all that remains now of his dream is the shell of the buildings . . .

Part of the large carriage house which once housed 100 horses

Another view of the carriage house

The castle which was huge! I cannot imagine the amount of labor and time and number of workers it must have taken to complete such an immense project.

Joy, Elyse, Me, and Leah
(photo by my Mom)

 Leah, Mom and I
(thank you, Joy, for the photo! :)

 Elyse and Joy . . . we are so blessed to know you both!
(photo by Mom)

Elyse and Leah

Joy and Elyse photographing the inside of the castle

Mom and I looking at the amazing stone architecture inside the castle
(photo by Leah) 

(photo by Leah) 

Inside part of the castle . . . at the bottom left, you can see where a fireplace once was.

Mom took this photo of Joy taking a picture of her . . . meanwhile . . .

I took one of all four of them! 

We all really enjoyed our time at the castle, marveling at the construction, having fun together, taking photos, and enjoying the beautiful views. From where we were, we could see the water tower in the distance . . .

So Joy and Leah figured out where to find the trail that led to it . . .

And then we went in search of it!

And found it :) . . .

It was interesting reading about how it had worked!

(photo by my Mom)

Me, Leah, Joy and Elyse
(photo by my Mom) 

Looking through one of the windows of the water tower


 After our time at the water tower, there were a couple of other trails we were wanting to explore, and one led to a 'natural bridge' . . . .

Leah, Joy and Elyse walking down the trail

A pretty little butterfly that was not very cooperative for a photo!

The natural bridge was so impressive! We loved our time down there exploring and enjoying the many different things to see.
(photo by my Mom) 

If I remember correctly, it was about 100 feet from the base of the natural bridge to the very top of it

 Mom, Elyse and Joy underneath the bridge

The rock formations were fascinating . . . so many layers.

(photo by my Mom)

The trail continued on through a deep sinkhole, and we very much enjoyed hiking it

Joy, Elyse and Leah


The trail was less than a mile long, and it was beautiful along it! Definitely a treat for the eyes . . . and ears :) as there were many birds singing along the way. Once we reached the end of the trail, we decided it would be nice to find a quiet place to sit and visit, but before that, there was one last place I wanted to quickly stop by in order to get a photo of it . . .

. . . the huge stone post office.

It makes me so curious what it was like back when it was first built and in operation! To think of all the many people, letters, catalogs, etc. that would have gone through those doors.

After quickly stopping here, we found a picnic area and sat and visited for hours. It was so nice to enjoy talking about things ranging from faith and family, to homeschooling, to child training, to sharing funny or memorable stories from our pasts, and much, much more. What a blessing godly friends are! Thank you so much, Joy and Elyse, for the wonderful day!


  1. How fascinating, such history is there, seemingly in the middle of no where. How sad to read of the castle's demolition, it must have been an amazing undertaking.

  2. I love exploring old castles and ruins. It looks like it could have been in the UK somewhere. :-)
    I've not been to this one, but have gone to many of the old mills down here in the Ozarks. Thanks for sharing ~ such beautiful photos.
    God bless,

  3. This park looks so much fun! I would be dreaming about the castle and what might have been inside it all day long. :-D Great pictures!

  4. What a fun post, Sarah! We loved getting together with you ladies--it was such a wonderful and edifying time. I hope we can do it again soon!

    I'm so thankful for the blessing of y'all's friendship! ♥

    1. As a long-time reader of both of your blogs, this post was such a treat! Seeing the beautiful pics makes me also miss "home" in the Ozarks. What a lovely day you all had!
      Sarah from VA

  5. What a fascinating place to visit! I had never heard of Ha Ha Tonka state park, but it looks like a fun place to visit. Thank you for sharing so many lovely photos, I felt like I had a chance to go too. : )


  6. The castle, tower, and bridge look so neat! Loved the photos!

  7. How fun, I love the bright green and all the buildings! <3

  8. Glad you had a great time with your mom, sister & friends. :)

  9. It was, Elizabeth! It was really interesting to visit there and enjoy all of the history.

  10. It does look like it could be, Mrs. Anne! How fun that you have been able to go to many of the old mills down in the Ozarks. That would be really neat, and I’m sure you enjoyed it!

    You’re welcome! And thank you. :)

  11. It was, Gabby! I can relate. :) Thank you!

  12. I am glad that you enjoyed it, Joy! We loved getting together with you both, too. It was really a blessing to us!

    We are so thankful for your friendship as well!

  13. It was, Sarah! And you’re welcome. :) It made me smile to hear that through the photos you felt like you were able to go, too!

  14. Welcome to my blog, Bethany! And yes, they were. :) I am glad that you enjoyed the photos!

  15. It’s always so nice to hear from readers, Sarah (and especially long-time ones :), so thank you for your comment! It’s nice to ‘meet’ you!

    Having read both of our blogs, I can see why it would indeed make the post a treat. I’m glad you enjoyed it!


Thanks so much for your comment! Each one is read and enjoyed. :)