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Our trip to Osage Beach, MO

With summer at an end and winter creeping up on us we decided it was time for one more trip in the year 2000. We have visited Osage Beach, MO (located on Lake of the Ozarks in central Missouri) in the past on a company related trip. During that trip Dan attended meetings and struggled with a game of golf while Sandy went shopping. We are not complaining mind you, but a trip like that does not lend itself to the level of snooping that we prefer in a new area. So we decided to take a couple days on our own to see what could be discovered in this area.

During this previous trip we had stayed in the Marriott resort called Tan-Tar-A. We are not sure what the name means but during our first trip we were real impressed with the accommodations so decided to try it again. Our experience this time was not all that we had hoped for, but as all of our mothers have told us "...if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all." So for this trip report we will simply keep our opinions to ourselves.

This, on the other hand, does not mean that we were disappointed in the area or other attractions. Quite the contrary, we had the most enjoyable morning cruising on the lake in this fantastic motor yacht.

This 75 foot, 150 passenger boat provided a smooth luxurious ride along the lake providing us with a beautiful view of the scenery. It isn't often that we use this space to plug other commercial ventures, but we were so impressed with the warm friendly approach to business that we thought we'd offer this link to Tropic Island Cruises in the event that you plan to travel to this area. The very reasonable price of $12.00 per person makes it affordable to anyone.

The boat is very bright so the two images below suffered from the camera trying to adjust to the lighting, but as you can see this is a very impressive boat. The first image is of the lower level and the second is the upper level looking forward to the bridge. You will also note the full bar, which offered us refreshment on this 2 hour trip.

As a point of clarification, the ceilings in both levels are constructed with a shiny bronze color metal with 3/4" spaces between them. This offers a reflection that makes the boat look much larger inside, but also confuses the camera and the eye in these shots.

Unlike other excursion boats we have ridden on, this was very quiet and large enough to offer a smooth ride. We spent the entire trip on the upper sun deck on the aft end of the boat. The First Mate offered interesting narrative along the way pointing out the many unbelievable homes. We especially enjoyed that he avoided in a constant dialog, thus allowing us to enjoy the beauty of the lake and some conversation about what we were seeing.

We boarded the boat at the marina pictured above. This is part of the resort known as The Lodge of the 4 Seasons. We marveled at the number and size of boats moored at this marina, they ranged from the small average ski boats to the very large cabin cruisers that looked like they could travel on just about any size body of water. There were also sail boats, pontoons, and even some house boats. But none other were as large as the one we rode on.

We did learn some interesting facts about the Lake of the Ozarks. For instance, it was created by the construction of the Bagnell Dam. The dam was started in the late 1920's and completed during the early years of the Great Depression providing jobs to the area. The lake was filled in 1932 and has become a huge asset to central Missouri. We were told that the weather does get cold enough for snow and there are those days when the temperature does dip down to the low teens, but for the most part winters are mild and the lake rarely freezes to any extent.

Aside from the hard cold facts we also learned about many of the houses and properties that line the lake shore. For instance, the image above shows a wooded peninsula that sports a mobile home, both of which are for sale for a cool $1.3 million dollars. Granted it is a nice lot, but the size of the lot doesn't lend itself to too much subdivision so obviously the seller is looking for a person that wants to build a unique estate.

Speaking of estates, take a look at the home being built in the image below. This is estimated to be the highest priced home on the lake at this time at $5.1 million dollars. The windows are trimmed in green marble with a front door imported from Mexico. Local coffee shop talk has the door priced at over $20,000.

Later in the day we drove to Ha Ha Tonka State park. This park provides the usual drive along tree lined roads that twist and climb through the park. There is one feature in this park that is not what one expects to find, the ruins of a castle. Yes, you read correctly, a castle high on a bluff overlooking one of the natural springs that are found in Missouri. Around the turn of the century a wealthy business type purchased 5000 acres and hired stone masons from Scotland to build this European style structure.

The property owner died prior to finishing the structure but it was later finished by his sons. The house was eventually leased for use as a hotel but tragedy struck in 1942 and it was gutted by fire. The carriage house burned the same day and vandals burnt the water tower in 1976. So today all that is left standing are the stone walls.

The image above shows the stone arch that framed a covered South facing porch. You can see the water tower structure in the background that held a steel water tank and living quarters. The covered porch overlooked a fountain and patio area built out over the high bluff seen below.

The signs told us that the stone was quarried off the property and hauled to the top of the bluff on carts drawn by mules (image above). The lumber, oak and walnut, were cut and milled from the property as well. It is a real shame that this once magnificent structure now lays in ruins. Many of the stones that have fallen from the walls are still soot covered from the fire that destroyed this structure.

To give you an idea of how high a bluff this house sets on we took the image below from the valley floor below the castle. I have marked the structure for clarity.

We continued our tour of this park with a hike along a board walk to see the natural spring that flows all year round. The water, unlike the hot springs we saw in Wyoming, flows at a constant rate of 56 degrees so it supports a wide variety of plant life.

We finished our day by hiking a short distance to see this natural bridge formed by millions of years of water flowing through holes in the rock. Although we did not spend a lot of time in this area we did find some very interesting places and enjoyed some time shopping. It was a great way to end the summer travel season.