Another post in the series of places to add on to your Laura Ingalls Wilder trip, whether you’re headed to LauraPalooza or just on your own.
If you know me you know I find a lot of different things interesting. I hope you do too, so even though it’s not Laura related I think you will enjoy the story of Kirk Dirt.
If you are a fan of Star Trek, you probably are aware that James Tiberius Kirk was born in Iowa. It happened like this. In the Star Trek history book, The Making of Star Trek, there is basically a throw away line saying that Kirk was born in Iowa. The series creator Gene Roddenberry didn’t have anything more detailed in mind than that. Back in 1984 Riverside Council Member Steve Miller read that line and decided if any Iowa town could be the birthplace of Captain Kirk it should be Riverside in hopes that it would draw tourists off the Highway of the Saints, US Highway 218. So Miller wrote Roddenberry and Roddenberry was so tickled with the idea he sent back a certificate naming Riverside as the spot, a fact that has been worked into post-1984 Star Trek including my favorite line from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home in which Kirk quips, “No, I’m from Iowa, I just work in outer space.” More specifically during the 2009 Star Trek reboot the opening scene with Kirk speeding across the plain, the bar, and the Riverside Shipyards are all set on-screen in Riverside, Iowa – which by the way looks absolutely nothing like any of those sequences.
Riverside didn’t just sit on its laurels from officially being named the true future birth site, instead they reached out to Star Trek fandom as many different ways as they could think of. They set up a marker for the future birthplace, built a replica of the Enterprise and eventually got a statue of Kirk himself (it took awhile and still isn’t out of as permanent material as they’d hoped partially because they had to get William Shatner’s OK).
In addition they turned over their local days event (like most small towns they have a three day festival including things like lots of food, competitions, and most importantly a parade), they have had many cast members make appearances and they started a Star Trek museum called The Voyage Home Museum. To learn more about Trek Fest see this page and listen to my podcast with the organizers back in 2011. They also fund raise to keep it all going including indeed selling vials of dirt from the future birthplace known as Kirk Dirt (see the third row). (I still think this idea would also work for the Laura homesites.)
If you want to visit on a normal day, you can always see the USS Enterprise model in the town park and see the birthplace marker. But if you want to visit the museum check the times it is open at the link above and visit Trekfest during the last week in June. Anytime you visit consider stopping in on main street at Murphy’s Bar and Grill which has very good bar style food. Pretty much all the businesses in town are located along the main street you come in from the four-lane highway on including the birthsite, the museum, and Murphy’s, but it’s a long, twisty street so if you think you’ve gone too far you probably haven’t.
Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.