Established in 1895 in east central Jasper County, the city is on the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad and is the terminus of the Jasper and Eastern Railroad. Named for John Henry Kirby, who, along with R.P. Allen, laid out the town site. Kirby was known as "Prince of the Pines" and at one time produced more Southern Pine lumber than any man in the world.
Today, lumber is still king, but agribusiness and tourism play an important role in the economy. The town is in the middle of national and state forests, as well as the Big Thicket National Preserve. Birding is a popular activity in the area. Residents salute the forests with the popular Magnolia Festival each April.
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