Dec 102013


Real Photo Postcard, circa 1930

Ha Ha Tonka is a cornucopia of karst features – springs, caves, cliffs, sinkholes and a natural bridge., was described in a 1940s brochure: “the 600-acre tract includes all the natural wonders of the place, among which are a 90-acre lake, with a wooded island; a spring producing 158,000,000 gallons of water daily; a natural bridge; seven caves, one of which has been explored for a distance of about two miles and which contains the largest known stalagmite; a natural amphitheater; and many curious and fantastic formations, such as the Balanced Rock and Devil’s Kitchen.”

Now a very popular Missouri State Park, Ha Ha Tonka was originally the property of the Snyder family in Kansas City.  Robert Snyder Sr. built a stunning ‘castle’ there on a bluff overlooking the Osage. When Bagnell Dam created Lake of the Ozarks, the family sued Union Electric over the swamping of their trout lake by the backwaters of the new lake, claiming that it had degraded the value of their estate by more than a million dollars. Courtroom fireworks attracted national media coverage and appeals kept the case going for more than five years. In the end, the Snyders received a judgment of $200,000 which probably about paid for the legal fees. We covered this colorful trial and the high profile players and courtroom action extensively  in Damming the Osage. Check a couple of previous posts for more info

Every week we post an unpublished image that relates to the Osage River, its ecology, history and development. None of these have been used in Damming the Osage, but they relate to the themes of the book. A brief caption identifies the location and our thoughts on its significance and meaning. Feel free to use these images for personal use if you credit “Collection of Leland and Crystal Payton.”  For commercial use, email us for details and a modest fee for a higher resolution image. We have thousands of historic photographs and brochures as well as our own contemporary photos.

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