July 29th 2003 marked the third anniversary of Slices of America. In celebration, I decided to head out to Lancaster County Pennsylvania to see what Amish life was all about. Angela and I packed sandwiches, drinks, and snacks and headed west out of Philadelphia. The drive from Philly to Lancaster County should take about 1.5 hours, but I decided-since it was such a beautiful day-to get there by state roads only. The trip took about 2 hours.
One of our first destinations in Lancaster County was the town of Intercourse. I just had to see this place. Here’s what the on-line welcome center has to say about this unique name: Formerly known as “Cross Keys” from a noted old tavern, this village was founded in 1754. Much speculation exists concerning the origin of the name of this little country village. There are several explanations, but none really can be substantiated. The first centers around an old race track which existed just east of town. As one leaves town, traveling eastward on the Old Philadelphia Pike, there is a long stretch of road where the track was located. This was the entrance to the race course, and was known as Entercourse. It is believed that Entercourse gradually evolved into Intercourse which became the name of the town in 1814. 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 old english language used more commonly when the name Intercourse was adopted in 1814. It speaks to the fellowship or social interaction and friendship which was so much a part of an agricultural village and culture at this time. These roots mark the community of faith to this day, and the many evidences of it are experienced by those who care to dig a bit more deeply in their Amish farmland venture.
Basically, if you’re heading west, as soon as you leave Intercourse you enter the village Bird-In-Hand – our next destination. As the marker states below, the town was named for an image that once appeared on an old hotel’s swinging sign.
One of the first things we did when we got to Bird-In-Hand was stopped at Coleman’s Ice Cream. We stopped for two reasons: it was time to eat lunch and they had picknick tables. Plus, it was hard to ignore their slogan, “Creative Ice Creams”. Turns out the picknick tables were very convenient and the butter cashew ice cream was fantastic, only I didn’t see many other “creative ice creames”.
Angela and the convenient pick-nick tables.
The image you see here (of the bird in the hand) must be like the image on that old hotel sign. It has been adopted by all the local businesses and appears on everything in Bird-In-Hand.
Below are images from the Lancaster County countryside. They are images from Bird-In-Hand, Intercourse, and some surrounding areas:
And finally, here are images of the Amish farmers at work. You will want to notice the horses pulling the machinery, not a tractor. You will also want to note that the Amish farmers do not use rubber tires, they are all metal.
The Amish buggies are abundant in Lancaster County. You see them on the road (or off to the side when that’s more practical), tying up to posts near general stores, and parked in barns. Most of the buggies are two-seater cabins pulled by a single horse. I did see three children crammed into one, but that looked a little tight.
This is the funniest thing I saw all day. This Amish farmer is pulling a wagon, and on the wagon’s rear, in the ceter, you can barely spot a black rectangular design- it’s one of those “Got Milk?” bumper stickers!
According to the Lancaster on-line wecome center, Stoltzfus is one of the most commom Amish family names. The others are King, Fisher, Beiler, and Lapp. The most commom male names are John, Amos, Samuel, Daniel, and David. The most common female names are Mary, Rebecca, Sarah, Katie, and Annie.
Note the motto on the Weavertown One Room School, “Animated Life Like Scholars”.
Birdhouses for sale