Intercourse, Pennsylvania

Census-designated place

Keystone Marker

Location within the state of Pennsylvania

Coordinates: 40°2′15″N 76°6′19″W / 40.03750°N 76.10528°W / 40.03750; -76.10528Coordinates: 40°2′15″N 76°6′19″W / 40.03750°N 76.10528°W / 40.03750; -76.10528
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Lancaster
Population (2010)
  Total 1,274
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
  Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 17534
Area code(s) 717 Exchange: 768

Intercourse (population: 1,274 as of 2010 census) is an unincorporated village and census-designated place in Leacock Township, Lancaster County in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, 10 miles (16 km) east of Lancaster on Pennsylvania Route 340. Intercourse is a popular site for tourists because of its location in "Amish country" and its sexually suggestive name. The movie Witness was filmed in Intercourse as well as other parts of the surrounding area, and For Richer or Poorer was set there, though not filmed in Intercourse. Because of the town's unusual name, the sign posts for the town are frequently targeted by thieves.


Tourism and farming are major industries in the area. Small businesses sell Amish crafts, food, and give horse and buggy rides. The town thrives on thousands of tourists who visit the region each year. Most of the land surrounding the town is farmland.


Intercourse was founded in 1754. The community was originally named Cross Keys, after a local tavern. Intercourse became the name in 1814. The village website gives several theories for the origins of the name.

Another theory concerns two famous roads that crossed here. The Old King's highway from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh (now the Old Philadelphia Pike) ran east and west through the center of the town. The road from Wilmington to Erie intersected in the middle. The joining of these two roads is claimed by some to be the basis for the town 'Cross Keys' or eventually 'Intercourse'.[1] A final idea comes from the use of language during the early days of the Village. The word 'intercourse' was commonly used to describe the 'fellowship' and 'social interaction and support' shared in the community of faith, which was much a part of a rural village like this one.[1]

The village's name is often the subject of jokes relating to sexual intercourse.[2] Along with that of Blue Ball, Pennsylvania, the publishers of Eros Magazine sought mailing privileges from the postmasters of the town.[3] Intercourse and Blue Ball are often named in lists of "delightfully-named towns" in Pennsylvania Dutchland, along with Gap, Fertility, Mount Joy, Lititz, Bareville, Bird-in-Hand and Paradise.[4][5][6][7][8] A gag on The Cleveland Show imagined the town as the location for a spin-off show centred on the libidinous Glenn Quagmire. The British motoring show Top Gear featured the town's sign while passing through Pennsylvania in a race to New York City during the show's sixteenth series. The Ellen DeGeneres Show had a What's Wrong with These Photos? Picture of a Welcome to Intercourse sign for the subject. Kay Lenz's titular character in the 1973 film Breezy reveals that she is from Intercourse ("I've heard all the jokes," she tells William Holden, "and you have to pass through Faithful to get there.") It was also mentioned in The Simpsons episode "The Old Man and the 'C' Student" where it was revealed that Superintendent Chalmers lived there.[9]

Sites of interest

Amish and Mennonite Tourist Information Center
American Military Edged Weapons Museum
People's Place Quilt Museum


  1. 1 2 Intercourse PA Merchants Association - Shopping - Tourism - Restaurants
  2. William Ecenbarger (March 30, 1986). "The Amish: Unwilling Stars of a Tourism Boom". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 23, 2010.
  3. Krassner (1963)
  4. Ward's quarterly (1965) p.109 quote: such delightfully-named towns in Pennsylvania Dutchland as his native Mount Joy, and neighboring Lititz, Blue Ball, Bareville, Intercourse, Bird in Hand, and Paradise.
  5. Anderson (1979) p.214 quote: ...but anyone who names their towns Mount Joy, Intercourse, and Blue Ball can't be all bad. Obviously they have more on their minds than just religion.
  6. Museums Association (2006) p.61 quote: Which brings us to Intercourse. You can imagine my delight when I found out that the Amish call the town of Intercourse, Pennsylvania, their home. There seems to be a lot of explanations from locals trying to pass off the name as a bastardisation of 'Enter Course' and so on, but seeing as there are other local towns called Blue Ball, Bird In Hand, and Mount Joy, I suspect that the person responsible had a very juvenile sense of humour. The town sits in upstate Pennsylvania and is a tourist trap for anyone even remotely curious about the Amish way of life.
  7. Rand McNally and Company (1978) p.52
  8. Mencken (1963) p.653 quote: In the years since then many of these names have been changed to more elegant ones,2 and others have vanished with the ghost towns they adorned, but not a few still hang on. Indeed, there are plenty of lovely specimens to match them in the East, in regions that were also frontier in their days, e.g., the famous cluster in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania: Bird in Hand, Bareville, Blue Ball, Mt. Joy, Intercourse and Paradise.
  9. "The Old Man and the "C" Student". Simpsons Archive. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  10. ,, Retrieved July 3, 2013
  11. Janet McMillan (Knight Ridder newspapers) (December 2, 1988). "Museum showcases Amish stichery skills". The Modesto Bee. Retrieved March 23, 2010.
  12. Elisabeth Bumiller (June 26, 1998). "In Amish Land, Witnesses to Old and New". The New York Times. Retrieved March 23, 2010.


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