Star Trekkin’ Across the Midwest

Star Trekkin' Across the Midwest

I found myself driving from Kansas to Texas last week, and I figured, why not take a slight detour to see Captain Kirk’s birthplace – hundreds of miles out of the way.

Those who know me, know I’m all for these kinds of detours. Last time I took a slight detour through Utah (after making the requisite right turn at Albuquerque), this time I figured, let’s see what Iowa has to offer. Turns out Des Moines is a surprisingly nice town. Probably gunna head back there sometime.

Anyway, Riverside.

For those who don’t know, Captain James T. (neé R) Kirk was born in rural Iowa, and in 1985 the town of Riverside (population 824 at the time, up to a wopping 993 now) asked to have it be the official future birthplace of the good captain – and Gene Roddenberry said yes!

True, the sleepy town – which now hosts its own casino (man, those things are popping up everywhere) – offers very little else for the distinguishing geek. No access to comic book stores or anything, and the teens I saw smoking outside an old church were only vaguely aware of Trek monument (although maybe there was some other reason they couldn’t think straight…), and yet, the town welcomes Trekkies and Trekkers alike to the tiny hamlet. The visitors center/Trek museum has kindly employees that will answer nearly question – even unsolicited ones, as I was informed Riverside is also the site of Kirk’s conception.

Star Trekkin' Across the Midwest

Apparently it will happen under the counter at Murphy’s Bar & Grill in the year 2227. Even if the new movies have alternate universe Kirk being born in space, he was still conceived and raised in Riverside.

The monument itself is not, as I would have thought, in a place of prominence like a city park. That is reserved for veterans who have been born and died, not those yet to be conceived.

Instead, Kirk’s birthplace is, or rather willan on-been (apologies to Dr. Dan Streetmentioner for my improper temporal grammar), currently located behind a rather nondescript hair salon, in what appears to be someone’s backyard.

Star Trekkin' Across the Midwest

Still, the town celebrates the momentous future occasion every year with an annual Trek Fest in which many devotees come dressed to the (Seven of) nines. It’s not a full Trek convention, I’m told (though they really should have one in the new casino), but blue and green people should be on the march. Most amazing to me, each year has an episode theme – I had to pick up a t-shirt celebrating 2013’s “I, Mudd” event! (He needs to be in a movie.)

Star Trekkin' Across the Midwest

I hope they plan a big event 14 years from now.

You’re probably asking yourself, “Well, what about the monument? What’s it look like?”

Fine. Here:

Star Trekkin' Across the Midwest

This story was originally published on the Kinja blog Observation Deck on Jan. 5th, 2014.

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