James Tiberius Kirk—Star Trek fans will recollect—was the youngest captain in the Starfleet history, who boldly lead the starship USS Enterprise and its crew into new worlds where no man had gone before.
Going by Star Trek’s timeline, James T Kirk won’t be born for another two hundred years. Yet, a small town south of I-80 on the eastern side of Iowa, United States, is already basking in the glory of the legendary captain’s exploits.
Riverside is a sleepy little place with a population of less than a thousand. Nothing much of anything happens here, which is why in 1985, Steve Miller, a member of the Riverside City Council, suggested that the council declare Riverside the future birthplace of Kirk.
Photo credit: Peter Zillmann/Flickr
Steve Miller, a Star Trek fan, had read Gene Roddenberry’s book “The Making of Star Trek”, where the creator of the landmark TV series stated that Capt. James Tiberius Kirk was born on March 22, year 2228 in Iowa. Because Roddenberry didn’t say where, Miller saw an opportunity and he seized it before anybody else could.
The council agreed unanimously. Miller poked a stick into the ground behind the town barber shop, which he owned, and declared that it was the Captain’s future birth spot. An engraved monument was eventually placed there. Later, a bench was added along with a Shuttlecraft-shaped donation box for upkeep.
Riverside’s official slogan was also changed from “Where the best begins” to “Where the Trek begins,” and the town’s annual summer festival was renamed from “River Fest” to “Trek Fest”.
William Shatner playing Captain Kirk in the television program Star Trek
The town’s Murphy’s Bar and Grill decided to get into the act too. A plaque was engraved, then mounted on the floor under the pool table, proclaiming that Kirk was “Conceived at This Point” exactly nine months before the date on his birthplace monument down the street. The plaque was later removed from the floor and affixed on the wall.
Riverside’s name as James T Kirk’s birthplace eventually became official Star Trek canon in 2009, when the town was identified as Kirk’s hometown in the Star Trek reboot movie. The entire town was invited to a special secret preview screening of the film, a day before its official release. And every year, on the Friday night closest to the March 22 birth date, Trek fans gather at Murphy’s Bar to sing Happy Birthday.
Star Trek-themed signs along First Avenue (Iowa Highway 22) in Riverside, Iowa. Photo credit: Tony Webster/Flickr
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