The story of Indian Steps Cabin begins over ten thousand years ago. The area gets its name from the “steps” carved in the nearby Susquehanna River’s rocks by early people of the region who used the footholds while gathering food along the river. The arrows, spear heads, stone axes and other relics embedded in the building were the belongings of the first residents of York County.
At the beginning of the twentieth century John Edward Vandersloot, a York, PA attorney enjoyed hunting, fishing and discovering ancient artifacts along the Susquehanna River area locally known as Indian Steps. Attorney Vandersloot acquired the property and developed it as a personal retreat. As John enjoyed the natural wonders of Indian Steps his collection of Native American artifacts continued to grow. As Vandersloot’s collection increased in size he began to have difficulty housing all of the artifacts. In 1907 John then decided that the best way to preserve his collection was to construct a building to display his antiquities. The Indian Steps Cabin was completed in 1912.
The Indian Steps Cabin celebrates local Native American culture and well as the civilization of early people from all over North America. The artifact-
The inscription over the door, “’I entreat all those who pass this way to safely guard and preserve these former possessions of and monuments to an ancient Indian people…” is evidence that John Vandersloot meant for the building to be preserved.
The Indian Steps Museum has operated as a public museum since the 1940’s. It is possibly the first Native American museum in the United States. Indian Steps was first owned by PPL and is currently owned by the Conservation Society of York County. The Indian Steps Cabin was entered in the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. The Conservation Society of York County does not receive state or federal funding to operate the Museum. It continues to accept donations and fees for tours, programs and educational opportunities. The gift shop revenues also support the operation of the Museum.