Save the Indian Steps Road Cottages

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Along the Susquehanna River in Airville, Pennsylvania, Native Americans carved “steps” into rocks along the shoreline for use when gathering food from the river.  The rocks became known as the “Indian Steps.”  A museum by that name now displays the artifacts of a bygone era.  In addition to arrowheads and stone axes, visitors to the museum cannot help but notice another feature of the community:  the iconic cottages along Indian Steps Road.

During the past half-century, the Indian Steps area has become the chief public recreation venue along the western bank of Lake Aldred, a stretch of the Susquehanna River in southern York County, Pennsylvania.  To enhance public recreation, the power company that owned the land surrounding the lake began leasing lots for the building of quaint cottages.  Today, twenty cottages line the upland edge of Indian Steps Road. 

Most of the cottages were constructed in the 1950s, the handiwork not of a construction company, but of their original owners.  Some have remained in the builders’ families for as many as five generations; others have changed hands more frequently.  One cottage was the happy home of a retired minister and his wife, both of whom are in their late eighties.  Several cottage owners were born and raised in the area and can regale friends and guests with oral histories of the past century’s trading and coal-dredging operations.  Family and friends recount happy childhood memories growing up “at the river.”  Today, the owners share a distinct sense of community and love of the surrounding habitat, which includes bald eagles, otters, and snapping turtles.

Although the cottage owners and the power company have peacefully coexisted for more than six decades, the power company (formerly a subsidiary of PPL Corp.) recently decided—without rational explanation—to destroy the cottages within the next five years.

The planned destruction of the Indian Steps Road cottages is tragic on several levels.  First, the impact on the current owners and their families is heartbreaking. 

Second, demolition of the cottages will seriously diminish public recreation.  Visitors to the area, whether by boat or kayak, car or motorcycle, horse or ATV, regularly stop to admire the picturesque cottages.  Anglers glide quietly by, trolling for catfish, bass, and shad.  Visitors also appreciate the rare stretch of public road with—by virtue of the cottage owners’ well-maintained yards—a river view.  And many folks would jump at the opportunity to own one of these unique dwellings, especially because the power company has provided fewer and fewer recreational opportunities on the lake during the past few decades.  For instance, the lake’s islands used to have public picnic tables, which no longer exist.  Moreover, the cottages have become an inseparable part of the history and heritage of the Indian Steps community.

Third, demolition of the cottages represents the destruction of a quiet and simple way of life that is difficult to find in our bustling world.  We want Brookfield Renewable, which recently acquired the land on which the cottages are constructed, to hear from its stakeholders that demolishing the Indian Steps Road cottages will wreak irreparable harm on the community in which Brookfield Renewable operates.

Accordingly, we are petitioning Brookfield Renewable to reconsider its plans to bulldoze the Indian Steps Road cottages. 

This petition was created by the Indian Steps Road Conservancy, a nonprofit organization formed by community members dedicated to continued stewardship of the Indian Steps Road cottages and surrounding area.  Your support is invaluable to us, and we greatly appreciate every signature we collect.  For more information and pictures, please visit www.IndianStepsConservancy.org.



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