All you science fiction fans out there, this one’s for you: a special look at the Official Future Birthplace of the one and only Captain James Tiberius Kirk of Star Trek’s USS Enterprise fame!
Yes, as a family of Star Trek fans (admittedly, some of us more so than others), we really did visit the small town of Riverside, Iowa, just for the opportunity to gaze upon the carved granite that marks this special spot. But first, we admired the bronze life-sized statue of the Captain in Railroad Park.
Then we headed across the street, past the trailer-mounted USS Riverside (which looks remarkably but not quite legal-liability-enough like the USS Enterprise) in the parking lot and into the modest Star Trek Voyage Home Museum on the main drag in town. Admission is free. Decidedly low-tech and low-budget but nonetheless entertaining, this place offers for your viewing pleasure a variety of cardboard cutouts of your favorite Star Trek characters as well as a “transporter” space for unique photo opps, plus a range of Star Trek models, props and memorabilia displays. Tip: be sure to visit the bathroom while you’re here for more Star Trek decor!
Obviously, after this free experience, we felt compelled to purchase some souvenirs from the gift counter in support of this endeavor: t-shirts, magnets, a pint glass, a koozie, and so on. It’s just gotta be done! Then, we followed the helpful signs down the street which point the way to the future birthplace monument that stands just about a third of a mile away, approximately a four-minute stroll. You can’t miss it!
And we made our way there very safely. Kudos to Riverside for embracing this bit of fame and notoriety and creatively incorporating Star Trek even into their pedestrian crosswalks!
Then, behold, there it was: down a small alley, past a salon in a cute little yellow house, the monument to the future birthplace we’d so boldly been searching for:
But that’s not all! Between the museum and the monument, you have the opportunity to stop in at Murphy’s Bar & Grill, also on First Street, to admire the plaque that commemorates the future site of James T. Kirk’s conception. Yes, you read that right. Back during our first visit in 2009 (OK, I admit it, we’ve been here a couple of times), this plaque – which reads: Captain James T. Kirk Conceived At This Point June 22, 2227 – was mounted on the floor underneath a pool table (hence the really bad photo).
The pool table, sadly, was removed in 2014 and now the plaque is instead mounted on a wall in the back room. If you time your visit to Murphy’s just right, you might even get to drink some delectable Romulan ale while you gaze upon the plaque.
Of all places, why Riverside, you may ask? Gene Roddenberry’s 1968 book mentioned only that Kirk would be born in a small town in Iowa. It just so happened that Riverside, with a current population of about 1027, was fortunate to have a Trekkie as a councilman back in 1985, and he proposed that Riverside declare itself the Future Birthplace of James T. Kirk. The motion passed unanimously and in 2009, Riverside was specifically mentioned as Kirk’s birthplace in the Star Trek reboot. Hence it became part of Star Trek canon. And so here we are.
Since some of us (ahem) have paid good money to meet and snap a quick pic with William Shatner (and Nichelle Nichols, and Brent Spiner, and Michael Dorn, and Marina Sirtis) in real life at a variety of ComiCons, this visit to the future birthplace of the great Captain Kirk is just icing on the Trekkie cake. Oh, and that March 22 future birth date? That’s William Shatner’s birthday (except, of course, his birth year is 1931).
So if you ever find yourself in Iowa, take that detour into Riverside and enjoy a journey into the future. And as always…. Live long and prosper!