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'. 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.
^Ward's quarterly (1965) p.109 quote: ...in such delightfully-named towns in Pennsylvania Dutchland as his native Mount Joy, and neighboring Lititz, Blue Ball, Bareville, Intercourse, Bird in Hand, and Paradise.
^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.
^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.
^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.