Indian Steps Museum – Airville, Pennsylvania - Atlas Obscura
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Airville, Pennsylvania

Indian Steps Museum

A small museum along the Susquehanna River is home to a rich collection of Native American artifacts. 

Constructed by a local lawyer from 1908-1912, Indian Steps is a unique, one of a kind museum displaying and preserving the history, culture, and artifacts of Native Americans. John Edward Vandersloot, the founder of the Indian Steps Museum, was an avid collector of artifacts and studied Native American lore.

The inscription above the museum’s doorway reads: “I entreat all who pass this way to safely guard and preserve these former possessions of, and monuments to, an ancient Indian people. John Edward Vandersloot, owner and builder. Indian Steps Cabin-1912”

And yes, there are “Indian Steps.” They were carved into the river cliffs by the Susquehannock Indians to access the river. They are now, however, hidden deep below the rivers waters after dam construction around 1911.

The area is very rich in Native American history and has seen human evidence dating to over 10,000 years ago. The Susquehannocks, “people of the muddy river” (in Algonquin), were an Eastern Woodland tribe. Their numbers dropped drastically due to warfare and disease spread by the European settlers. The last 20 Susquehannocks living together peacefully (in Lancaster County) were tragically massacred by a group of men as a result of a crime committed by an unrelated tribe. Indian Steps is a beautiful gem located in Southern York County, Pennsylvania and is a tribute to the Native American culture and people. 

Know Before You Go

For visitors to the museum, it is worth noting that the 2nd and 3rd floors are not wheelchair accessible. Admission is $5 per person or $15 for families of up to six members. Open mid-April through October, hours are Thurs 10am-4pm, Friday 10am-4pm, Sat 10am-5 pm, and Sun 10am-5 pm. Each September, the museum hosts a Pow Wow and proves a great a place for family picnics. 

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