Whenever we visit the Pennsylvania Dutch Country, there are some places, where we always love to come to again. Intercourse, a small town alongside the old „Philadephia Turnpike“ (Route 340), located in the eastern Lancaster County, is one of these places. And it’s not because of the name.
Intercourse is one of these American towns where the traditional plain way of life of the Amish People, the Mennonites and the Brethren dominates. These are Christian communities which more or less keep themselves away from the modern conveniences.
On the streets the buggies of the Amish People are an integral part of the traffic and belong to the street scene just like the automobiles of the „English“, as the Amish call their Non-Amish neighbors. They come from the surrounding farms and neighbouring towns like Bird-in-Hand or Paradise to do their shopping and other business.
When you take a walk through this small neat country town you will find speciality stores, galeries, museums and restaurants as well as motels, bed and breakfasts and even a campground. We particularly like the shops where handcrafted goods are offered, like quilts, those bed covers which are crafted by Amish or Mennonite women. If desired, your quilt will be customized according to your personal wishes. Quilting has a long tradition. For example the women sat together chatting and quilting while the men were raising a barn for one of their neighbors.
Another good reason to visit Intercourse is shopping at „The Old Candle Barn“. Since the late 1960s the candles are handmade by local craftsmen which are still using the same old fashion methods. Monday thru Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. you can visit the candle making factory and watch the craftsmen doing their work. In the gift shop you will find dozens of different candle styles with hundreds of scents where you can choose from. Here are some examples:
- Fruity Mulberry,
- Flowery Lily of the Valley,
- Freshly brewed Hazelnut Coffee,
- Delicious Banana Nut Bread,
- Cranberry and
- French Vanilla
…and always popular
Just a few footsteps to the west you come to the Kitchen Kettle Village, an „Outdoor Shopping Village“. Surrounding a village square and along a shopping street there are about 40 small shops offering homemade products, canned and fresh, pastries and cakes and souvenirs. Foods and refreshments are available at 2 restaurants. At the village square „Banjo Jimmy and His Sidemen“ are performing live Dixieland music.
How did Intercourse get its name?
The village was established in 1754 and was named Cross Keys. Sixty years later, in 1814 the name was changed to Intercourse. Although there are some attempts to explain the name, none can really be validated.
- There was a race trac east of the town and the entrance to the race was called „Entercourse“. Some believe that it gradually changed to „Intercourse“.
- Another theory assumes that two major roads crossed at this place: the Old King’s Highway and the road from Wilmington, Delaware to Erie, Pennsylvania. This intersection may have been the basis for the town of „Cross Keys“ or, eventually, „Intercourse“.
- And there is another possible meaning which may come from the „old english“ language of the early 19th century. Social interaction and friendship or „fellowship“ were values of an agricultural village and culture at that time.