Early in the 20th century, Robert McClure Snyder – a wealthy businessman from St. Louis and Kansas City – had a wonderful idea. After exploring the area near Camdenton, Missouri, he stated: “Here I will spend my leisure, secure from the worries of business and the excitement of city life. I will fish and loaf and explore the caves of these hills, with no fear of intrusion.” How many of us have similar dreams?
With his vacation and retirement home in mind, Snyder bought approximately 5,400 acres of land overlooking waterfalls and a river valley. In 1905, he began building a mansion on a bluff that had a clear view for miles.
It’s odd that the very thing that drew me to the ruins of that mansion (the Castle at Ha Ha Tonka State Park near Lake of the Ozarks) was the instrument of Snyder’s untimely death only a year after starting construction – travel in an automobile. By attending the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood event south of the park for a number of years, I’ve enjoyed driving on the roads off the interstate in that area so much that I asked someone more familiar with the area to direct me to other fun-to-drive roads and points of interest. That’s how I (figuratively) met millionaire industrialist Robert McClure Snyder.