“Live long and prosper”
State 11: Iowa - August 7, 2017
We woke up in a Cedar Rapids, IA Walmart ready for another day of exploration. The first scheduled stop was in Riverside, IA to visit our “Roadside Attraction” for the state of Iowa. While visiting roadside attractions during our cross country journey, we have seen oversized items, curious oddities, and even entire themed towns. However, Riverside's claim to fame is different from all others, because it commemorates an event that will not occur until 216 years in the future! Star Trek fans you have 2 centuries to get ready, because on March 22, 2233 Riverside, IA will be the birthplace of the Captain of the USS Enterprise; James T. Kirk! However, to understand what will occur in the future we must first visit the past.
As the story is told by the locals, in 1985, Steve Miller, a Town Councilman of the tiny town of Riverside, read the book “The Making of Star Trek”, which said Kirk was born in a small Iowa town on March 22, 2233. However, the book did not state which small town in Iowa it would be. Miller suddenly had a stroke of genius! Why not declare Riverside, IA as the small Iowa town where Captain Kirk would one day be born? He brought his proposal before the City Council, and the measure passed unanimously! The town then changed their slogan to “Where the Trek Begins”, and each summer agreed to hold an annual Trek Fest! Miller then took a stick, and stabbed it into the earth behind a hair salon he owned, and proclaimed that exact spot to be where Captain Kirk would one day be born. There is a stone monument acknowledging the location of the future birthplace behind the salon, which is pictured below.
But wait! The story does not end there. If he was born in Riverside, IA, then where was Kirk conceived? This is where things get real interesting. What more fitting location for Kirk’s conception than Riverside’s local watering hole “Murphy’s Bar and Grill”. If you don’t believe me, there is a plaque on the wall announcing the exact spot of Kirk’s future conception. By declaring Riverside the future birthplace of Captain Kirk, the town used an extremely creative and successful way drive tourism to their tiny town. Albeit kind of silly, Lori and I both had fun during our brief visit.
After leaving Riverside, IA we drove through the tiny town of Columbus Junction, IA. While passing through, we noticed a sign pictured below for a swinging bridge, and decided to stop and check it out. If you look very close at the same picture you will see a church in the background. This church is where Nate and I went to say a prayer for our safety before visiting the swinging bridge. The bridge was named Lovers Leap after a local legend about an Indian maiden who jumped from the bridge to her death after hearing her lover had died in battle. Although I too have Indian blood in me, I have no desire to follow in her footsteps. Nate and I carefully read the signs posted next to the bridge pictured below before crossing.
Let's see where should I begin? The bridge was built in 1880, is currently 260 feet long, was rebuilt 3 times since, and the last time was in 1954. It collapsed once in 1920 taking two people with it into the valley beneath although neither one was injured. The bridge appeared to be structurally sound, although I am far from an expert on what a structurally sound swinging bridge looks like. The bridge reminded me of the one in the movie “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom", and I was hoping my trip across that old rickety swinging bridge would turn out better for me than it did for Harrison Ford. We agreed to cross one at a time to limit the sway, to take pictures of the other one crossing, and just in case something went awfully wrong we both wouldn’t plunge to our deaths. Nate agreed to go first, and after he made it across safely, it was now my turn. I was very nervous and tried not to look down into the ravine below me. Normally, I am not afraid of heights but the constant swinging of the bridge made it much scarier. I was very proud of myself when I made it to the other side! The bridge is actually more bowed in real life than shown in the pictures below, and oh boy did it ever swing, especially in the middle. After we both made it back across the bridge safely, we drove 30 minutes to a Walmart in Washington, IA.