The following article will have some words that will make grandmothers blush and teenagers snicker. They are not meant to cause discomfort, they are just titles of locations. Does your face turn red when you say, “Philadelphia”? No? How about “Lancaster” or “New York”? Nothing? Let’s get this over with. Intercourse. Blue Ball. Leacock Township. Bird-In-Hand. Fertility. Paradise. Go ahead, laugh, giggle, do whatever you need to get it out of your system so we can move on. I’ll wait here for you……
Why in the world do we have such a large cluster of names with funny names all within miles of each other. Did early explorers have dirty minds? Today I am going to concentrate on my three favorite local towns with some of the funniest names in Lancaster County: Blue Ball, Intercourse, and Paradise. The stories behind their names may just surprise you.
Let’s start with the town of Blue Ball. In the early 18th century, an Irish man named, John Wallace decided to build an Inn in Earltown, Pennsylvania. He chose a prime piece of real estate located where the Indian paths French Creek (Route 23) and Paxtang (Route 322) intersected.
In a brilliant marketing move, John hung a large copper blue ball from a post in front of his establishment and a sign that read, “Sign of the Blue Ball”.
John Wallace’s sign soon proved to be an effective logo, for locals soon began referring to the town as “Blue Ball”. It officially adopted the name in 1833. During prohibition, he changed the name of his establishment to The Blue Ball Hotel.
His hotel stood at the intersections of routes 23 and 322 until 1997. A Sunoco gas station now stands in that location.
How about Intercourse, Pa? There are many theories behind how the town morphed from the simple name of Crossed Keys to the name that you dread to hear in 8th grade health class.
According to Village of Intercourse web site:
“First, our town used to sit at the edge of a race course, right where visitors would enter the racing festivities. The entrance was coined “Entercourse” and may have evolved into Intercourse. Or, the name may have come from the Intersection of two major roads, or courses. The Old Kings Highway which traveled from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia and the route from Wilmington, Delaware to Erie, Pennsylvania. One final theory suggests the town was named after a phrase commonly used at the time of the town’s founding. In early English, Intercourse was used to refer to fellowship and social interaction shared in a community of faith, a description still relevant to our town today.
Whichever theory holds true, we’re happy with our name. It’s the perfect conversation starter!”
Today, Intercourse is made up of a quaint village packed with countless shops and is known as the heart of Amish Country where visitors frequently hear the sound of horses clicking down the road as Amish buggies ride by.
After you reach Intercourse, your next stop is Paradise, PA. The small metropolis of Paradise is comprised of 1.197 square miles. Some say that the name Paradise was given by Joshua Scott, who later become known for his map of Lancaster County. Standing in the middle of a road admiring his surroundings one day, he remarked that the town should be called Paradise, because its beauty made it “seem like a paradise.”
The towns of Blue Ball, Intercourse, and Paradise might have funny names but they are full of beauty and unique surprises around each corner. Take your time as you explore each nook and cranny of these uniquely named towns you won’t regret it!