The first visitors to Indian Echo Caverns, most likely were the Susquehannock Indians. They lived along the Swatara creek, upon which the mouth of the caverns sits. It is currently believed that they used the caverns as a refuge during inclement weather because of the constant 52° temperature inside the caverns. The Susquehannock vanished from the area in the 1670’s leaving the region around the caverns virtually unoccupied.
The first non-Native American explorers of the caverns were most likely French fur trappers. They traveled along the rivers and creeks of the north east during the latter part of the 17th Century and into the early 18th Century. Most likely they discovered the mouth of the caverns as they traveled on the Swatara Creek. These intrepid explorers wrote about their tales in the caverns attracting more and more explorers.
The Caverns were first opened to the general public in 1929, when Mr. John Bieber opened the doors to the caverns. Mr. Bieber realized that many people wishing to visit the caverns might be put off by the treacherous, uneven terrain that nature created. Bieber undertook a massive commercialization process, in which all of the pathways in the caverns were made safe for travel, as well as opening up many rooms closed off because of huge mineral deposits. The caverns were a natural Mecca of the region, attracting thousands of visitors in its first years. However, sadly, the caverns fell upon hard times during the Great Depression, and Mr. Bieber lost ownership to the bank. All was not lost, for in 1942, Mr. Edward S. Swartz, a Hershey native purchased the caverns. Today, the ownership of the caverns still remain in his family, with hundreds of thousands of visitors walking the paths of the Susquehannocks each year.