Museums, History & Heritage
Don’t just read about American history, experience it.
York, PA – briefly the nation’s Capital and where “The United States of America'' name was coined – is a premier place to do just that. York County is rich with history and is heaven on earth for history buffs and anyone curious about the past.
With re-enactments, historic sites, thousands of artifacts, and rare archives, the museums in York and across the county chronicle the nation’s past, taking you back to colonial times, the Industrial Revolution, and the Civil War.
A Quick Look at York PA Museums
The York County History Center should definitely be at the top of your list of things to do in York, PA. There, you’ll have the opportunity to visit four different sites: The Historical Society Museum, Library/Archives; Colonial Complex; Fire Museum; and Agricultural and Industrial Museum.
At the Historical Society Museum, Library/Archives, you can track down your family’s roots; admire the artistry of yesteryear’s quilts, furniture and pottery; and astound your kids at the Rutter’s Discovery Center for Children, where there’s a crank telephone and these things called “slates.”
Go on a guided tour of the Colonial Complex – one of the most popular York, PA, attractions – and immerse yourself in 18th-century everyday life. The tour highlights York’s involvement in the Second Continental Congress and American Revolutionary War.
Take your childhood fascination with fire trucks to a whole new level at the Fire Museum. More than 225 years of firefighting equipment is displayed in a 1903 firehouse, including antique trucks and hand-drawn pumpers.
At the Agricultural and Industrial Museum, set foot in a 1916 trolley car, discover what it’s like to milk a cow, and learn how wallpaper, pianos, and even caskets are made.
For Civil War history, check out The Goodridge Freedom Center and Underground Railroad Museum, which honors William C. Goodridge, a former slave and wealthy businessman who helped free other slaves via the Underground Railroad. The York museum features an actual hand-dug hiding place under his kitchen floor.
Museums & Experiences Across York County PA
Multiple other historical experiences await throughout York County.
The African-American Excellence and Women Power Cultural Trails bring to life local heroes, and salute black- and women-owned businesses.
The Indian Steps Museum was built in 1912 by a lawyer who needed somewhere to store and display his vast collection of Native American artifacts. There are more than 10,000 pieces, including those from his visits to archaeological sites and tribal leaders throughout North and South America.
The Ma & Pa Railroad Heritage Village takes you back to a 1915 hub that sprung up around the Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad. Take a five-mile train trip on one of the historic lines, and explore highlights with a costumed interpreter, such as the general store, mill, and grain elevator.
The Weightlifting Hall of Fame at York Barbell Company showcases how strength sports have evolved from mythology to the Olympics. Check out vintage barbells and tales of famous strongmen, such as Joseph Greenstein, a.k.a. “The Mighty Atom,” who stopped an airplane from taking off with his hair.
The Warehime-Myers Mansion & History Museum is a spectacular 1913 Greek Revival with a marble-floor solarium, lion statues, and even a bowling alley in the basement. Tours are available for the first two floors.