Captain Kirk’s Future Small-Town Beginnings

In Riverside, Iowa — population less than 1,000 in the last census — getting your hands on future space history requires an adventurous spirit.

Visitors to the town must keep their eyes peeled on the main road for a subtle banner pointing in between two buildings. Wedged in the backyard is a special stone marking what townspeople say is the future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk.

Commemorating the famed Star Trek captain’s beginnings dates back to 1985, when the town was looking for a theme for its annual festival. Now dubbed Trekfest, the festival draws legions of Trekkies to the small town every year during the last weekend of June. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry once wrote a book saying Kirk was born in a small town in Iowa, and the Riverside City Council unanimously passed a motion proclaiming itself to be the future birthplace of Kirk.

The marker for Kirk’s birthplace, according to Trekfest, had the blessing of Roddenberry, and William Shatner himself visited Riverside in 2004.

Past performers at Trekfest include Five Year Mission, a band that aims to write one song based on each of the original Star Trek episodes. (Two albums are finished so far). The town is also home to “The Voyage Home” gift shop and a moveable mini starship, which was on tour during Universe Today‘s visit last week.

Lead image by Elizabeth Howell.

Elizabeth Howell (M.Sc. Space Studies ’12) is a contributing editor for SpaceRef and award-winning space freelance journalist living in Ottawa, Canada. Her work has appeared in publications such as, Air & Space Smithsonian, Physics Today, the Globe and Mail, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.,  CTV and the Ottawa Business Journal.

5 Replies to “Captain Kirk’s Future Small-Town Beginnings”

  1. Jonathan Archer once said he was from Upstate New York. I want my city (Rochester) to claim him, before another one does…

  2. Oh, born in the U.S.A.? I thought JTK was born in a shuttle, while his father fighted against Nero. But I must have been in the wrong movie….

    1. The person I talked to at the local gift shop said they get a lot of questions about the birth in the 2009 movie. His explanation was everything in the Star Trek universe is altered with the series reboot, including the circumstances of Kirk’s birth.

  3. I’m glad you all are featuring more of these types of space/pop-culture reference stories. At first it seemed off-topic to me, but being a huge Astronomy AND Sci-Fi fan, I’m really liking it now. If not for that UT aspect, I probably never would have heard of all this. You not only hipped me to the town and the origins of it’s becoming said, I now know of a REALLY cool sounding band (also a music freak)! Thanks!!

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