Riverside is a small town in rural Washington County, Iowa, State Highway 22. The town was founded on the banks of the English river. It first started up around a tavern called McClure's Halfway House that was a regular stop for stagecoach travelers going from Iowa City to Ainsworth. Nathaniel McClure owned the land on which Riverside was eventually laid out.
In 1859 Jesse Boyd bought 40 acres of the land and built a stockyare and the first house within the city limits. The town was officially founded in 1872, and in 1873 the Muscatine Western Railroad was extended to Riverside. Following the railroad, a general store, drug store, doctor's office, and hotel were built.
Riverside is still conveniently located approximately 15 miles south of Iowa City, home to the University of Iowa, and 8 miles east of the quaint little town of Kalona. As of the 2000 census, the population of Riverside was 928.
Riverside is best known for a famous future event. That townspeople have proclaimed it to be the future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk, a character played by William Shatner in the television show Star Trek. Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, asserts in his book The Making of Star Trek that the character of Kirk had been born in a small town in Iowa.
In March of 1985, when the town was looking for a theme for its annual town festival, Steve Miller, a member of the Riverside City Council who had read Roddenberry's book, suggested to the council that Riverside should proclaim itself to be the future birthplace of Kirk. Miller's motion passed unanimously. The council later wrote to Roddenberry for his permission to be designated as the official birthplace of Kirk, and Roddenberry agreed.
The proclamation declaring the town the "Official Future Birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk," signed by Gene Roddenberry, is housed, along with a carved wooden statue of James T. Kirk, at the Riverside Area Community Club (RACC). A large stone and plaque in the rear of a downtown building purports to be the site of the future farmstead and birthplace of James Kirk, and the home of his family, in the 2230s.
The town now hosts an annual Riverside Trek Fest that includes such events as an annual parade, Star Trek-themed pet shows, costume contents, Trek-themed games, and talent shows. Some Trek Fests have featured minor celebrities as guests.
In 2004, William Shatner finally came to Riverside, purportedly to film a movie using residents as cast members. It was later revealed to be a reality television show for SpikeTV called Invasion Iowa.
Following the passage of a referendum approving riverboat gaming by the citizens of Washington County in August of 2004, the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort held its grand opening in 2006. This is by far the largest business in the Riverside area, complete with hotels, restaurants, casino games, and live entertainment. Links to other area business can be found on the area informationpage.
Here is a map to Riverside & Trek Fest.
Trek Fest XXIV is June 27 & 28!
Check our Trek Fest page to see the events.