To get to Paradise, some Americans go to Intercourse
In Texas, amorous couples get engaged in Loving—and then go to Looneyville via Hoop and Holler.
Earth is also in Texas, and lies about 2 400km away from Mars and Venus, both in Pennsylvania.
And the good people of Rising Sun, Maryland, probably have close ties to their kinfolk in Hot Coffee, Mississippi, Toast in North Carolina and Two Egg, Florida.
The United States has its fair share of towns with odd place names, some with stories that rival the name for originality.
In New Mexico, the townspeople of Hot Springs voted in 1950 to change the name of their town to Truth or Consequences, after a popular television game show.
Intercourse, which is in the heart of Pennsylvania’s deeply religious and traditional Amish country, was called Cross Keys, after a popular inn, when it was founded in the 18th century.
It changed its name to Intercourse in the 1800s for reasons no one is entirely sure of.
“The first centers around an old race track which existed on the Old Philadelphia Pike, where there is a long stretch of race course, known as Entercourse. It is believed that Entercourse gradually evolved into Intercourse,” the town says on its website.
Another theory holds that the word Intercourse was more frequently used in the 1800s to “describe the fellowship and social interaction and support shared in the community of faith”, the website says.
The picturesque town has capitalised on its famous name, selling T-shirts that read “I love Intercourse.”
The town of Boring, Oregon, has taken a different tack, billing itself as “the most exciting place to live”.
Meanwhile, Christmas, Florida experiences a business boom during the festive season, especially at its post office as people come from neighbouring towns to mail greeting cards with a Christmas postmark.
Santa Claus, Indiana, enjoys a similar jump in business: it claims to have the only post office in the world with the name of the jolly, bearded man who delivers gifts to children around the world on Christmas day.
That means the Santa Claus post office receives half a million letters to its jolly, bearded namesake, and an equal number are posted from the town each Christmas, said the head of Santa Claus’s tourist board, Melissa Miller.
“Our post office is probably the most famous thing about our town, and it actually has a lot to do with how we got our name,” Miller said.
“Our area was settled by German immigrants in the 1850s, and as the little town grew, they saw the need to have a post office, and applied to the US government for permission to locate one here,” she said.
“Their first application was for a town called Santa Fe. But there was already a town in Indiana with that name, so their application was denied.
“So the little town had a community meeting on Christmas Eve, in a little log church with a potbelly stove, and everyone gathered round and talked about what they would rename the town.
“During the meetings, a little girl came running in the door as sleigh bells rang outside, and she cried, ‘It’s Santa Claus!,’” Miller said.
The name had a ring to it, it was accepted by the US government, and has stuck to this day.
One problem faced by hamlets with weird names is that people steal the signs with the names posted at the city limits.
Intercourse has had its sign stolen several times—speculation is that the thieves nail the signs above their beds.