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Albert Lea, Minnesota facts for kids

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Albert Lea
The historic downtown
The historic downtown
Land Between the Lakes
Location of the city of Albert Leawithin Freeborn Countyin the state of Minnesota
Location of the city of Albert Lea
within Freeborn County
in the state of Minnesota
Albert Lea, Minnesota is located in Minnesota
Albert Lea, Minnesota
Albert Lea, Minnesota
Location in Minnesota
Country United States
State Minnesota
County Freeborn
Settled 1855
Incorporated (village) 1859
Incorporated (city) 1878
 • Total 15.14 sq mi (39.21 km2)
 • Land 13.29 sq mi (34.42 km2)
 • Water 1.85 sq mi (4.79 km2)  12.69%
1,243 ft (379 m)
 • Total 18,016
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,328.62/sq mi (512.98/km2)
 • Demonym
Albert Leans
Time zone UTC-6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (Central)
ZIP Code
Area code(s) 507
FIPS code 27-00694
GNIS feature ID 0639247

Albert Lea is a city in Freeborn County, in southern Minnesota. It is the county seat. Its population was 18,016 at the 2010 census.

The city is at the junction of Interstates 35 and 90, about 90 miles (140 km) south of the Twin Cities. It is on the shores of Fountain Lake, Pickerel Lake, Albert Lea Lake, Goose Lake, School Lake, and Lake Chapeau. Fountain Lake and Albert Lea Lake are part of the Shell Rock River flowage.

The city's early growth was based on agriculture, farming support services and manufacturing, and it was a significant rail center. At one time it was the site of Cargill's headquarters. Other manufacturing included Edwards Manufacturing (barn equipment), Scotsman Ice Machines, Streater Store fixtures, and Universal Milking Machines. As in many U.S. cities, Albert Lea's manufacturing base has substantially diminished. A major employer was the Wilson & Company meatpacking plant, later known as Farmstead and Farmland. This facility was destroyed by fire in July 2001.


Albert Lea
Albert Miller Lea

The city is named after Albert Miller Lea, a topographer with the United States Dragoons, who surveyed southern Minnesota and northern Iowa in 1835, including the current site of Albert Lea. Captain Nathan Boone, a son of Daniel Boone, was the scout for Lea's unit.

Albert Lea received national attention in 1959 after Local 6 of the United Packinghouse Workers of America went on strike against Wilson & Co. (one of the Big Four meatpacking plants at the time) over issues involving mandatory overtime requirements. When Wilson & Co. attempted to operate the plant with replacement workers, violence erupted and split the town. During the 109-day strike, Governor Orville Freeman acted to quell the violence by closing the plant, calling in the Minnesota National Guard, and (on December 11) declaring martial law. A Federal district court in Minneapolis ruled against the Governor on December 23, and the plant turned back to Wilson & Co. just days later.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.42 square miles (37.35 km2), of which 12.59 square miles (32.61 km2) is land and 1.83 square miles (4.74 km2) is water. Myre-Big Island State Park is nearby. There are three main lakes in Albert Lea: Fountain Lake, Pickerel Lake and Albert Lea Lake.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 262
1880 1,966
1890 3,305 68.1%
1900 4,500 36.2%
1910 6,192 37.6%
1920 8,056 30.1%
1930 10,169 26.2%
1940 12,200 20.0%
1950 13,545 11.0%
1960 17,108 26.3%
1970 19,418 13.5%
1980 19,200 −1.1%
1990 18,310 −4.6%
2000 18,356 0.3%
2010 18,016 −1.9%
2019 (est.) 17,656 −2.0%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 18,016 people, 7,774 households, and 4,644 families living in the city. The population density was 1,431.0 inhabitants per square mile (552.5/km2). There were 8,410 housing units at an average density of 668.0 per square mile (257.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 90.0% White, 1.1% African American, 0.3% Native American, 1.1% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 5.3% from other races, and 2.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 13.2% of the population.

There were 7,774 households, of which 25.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.0% were married couples living together, 10.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.4% had a male householder with no wife present, and 40.3% were non-families. 34.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 17.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.24 and the average family size was 2.85.

The median age in the city was 44 years. 21.5% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 22% were from 25 to 44; 26.3% were from 45 to 64; and 22.4% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.3% male and 51.7% female.


Climate data for Albert Lea, Minnesota
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F 23 28 40 56 69 78 82 80 72 59 42 27 54.7
Average low °F 5 10 22 35 47 58 62 59 50 37 25 10 35
Precipitation inches 0.75 0.71 1.85 3.66 4.45 4.72 4.57 4.45 3.58 2.52 1.73 1.1 34.09
Average high °C -5 -2.2 4.4 13.3 20.6 25.6 27.8 26.7 22.2 15 5.6 -2.8 12.59
Average low °C -15 -12.2 -5.6 1.7 8.3 14.4 16.7 15 10 2.8 -3.9 -12.2 1.67
Precipitation mm 19.1 18 47 93 113 119.9 116.1 113 90.9 64 43.9 28 865.9
Source #1: Weatherise
Source #2: U.S. climate data

Albert Lea has a warm-summer subtype of the humid continental climate with cold winters to hot summers, with significant contrasts between seasons. Its climate type is typical for inland northern United States locations, but due to its southern position in the state, its summers and winters have higher temperatures than Minneapolis - St. Paul and Duluth.

Sites of interest

Myre-Big Island State park

State park of Minnesota located near Albert Lea, MN. Home to trails that take visitors around wet lowlands, oak savanna, and grasslands. Albert Lea Lake and park marshes draw hundreds of waterfowl during migration. Oak savanna and prairie landscape, including wetlands, dominate most of the park. One of the more distinctive aspects of the park is the 116-acre Big Island, covered with maple/basswood forest. Another is the glacial esker located in the northeast section of the park. Blazing Star Trail bike trail takes you from Albert Lea, and right into the state park. It's open to Spring and Fall bird migrations, glacial esker, great marsh, bird watching, hiking, canoeing, and camping.

Marion Ross Performing Arts Center

Marion Ross Performing Arts Center
Marion Ross Performing Arts Center

The Marion Ross Performing Arts Center is an historic building conveniently located in downtown Albert Lea. The theater has a spacious lobby and a fully equipped lighting and sound system. It seats 255. It has a projector that can be used with DVDs, VCRs and computers for a variety of presentations. The theater is an ideal facility for business meetings and seminars. A room on the downstairs level is perfect for small meetings.


Known as, "The Land Between the Lakes," there are three main lakes in Albert Lea: Fountain Lake, Albert Lea Lake, and Pickerel Lake. Fish typically found in these lakes include: bullhead, carp, northern pike, bass, walleye, catfish, yellow perch and various panfish. Boating, fishing, canoeing, and boat tours are can be found on these lakes.

Freeborn County Fair

Known as the six best days of summer and located in Albert Lea. It includes live entertainment, an antique tractor show, a draft horse show, a small and baby animal show, and a Sunday church service. It also has a beer garden, a cattle department, commercial exhibits, a conservation building, a creative arts and crafts building, fair food, a floral hall, a freeborn county 4-H building, a heritage barn, a course arena, a kiddie farm yard, a kid's zone, and machinery hill.


The Albert Lea Thunder was a junior hockey team that played at Albert Lea Ice Arena and was a member of the North American Hockey League. The team operated for two seasons in 2008-10 and folded due to financial difficulties. On May 11, 2010, it was reported that the team had found new owners and would relocate to Texas for the 2010–11 season. Their roster was officially sold to the expansion Amarillo, Texas franchise the Amarillo Bulls on May 26, 2010.


Notable people

  • Clare Hibbs Armstrong, brigadier general during World War II
  • Tom Brown (Canadian football), Minnesota Golden Gophers and BC Lions football star; 1960 Outland Trophy winner and Heisman Trophy runner-up; College Football Hall of Fame and Canadian Football Hall of Fame inductee
  • Richard Carlson, writer, director and actor, best known to movie fans of '50 sci-fi and horror; starring roles include The Magnetic Monster (1953), Riders to the Stars (1954), It Came from Outer Space (1953), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
  • Vinny Cerrato, former Washington Redskins general manager
  • Eddie Cochran, rockabilly musician (composer of "Summertime Blues" and "Twenty Flight Rock")
  • Richard Fitzgerald, farmer, businessman, and Minnesota state legislator
  • Al Franken, comedian, commentator and U.S. Senator, attended Hawthorne Elementary and Abbott Elementary
  • Joan Claire Graham, writer, editor and publisher
  • Alexander Grinager, an artist most noted for his murals, born in Albert Lea
  • Rudolph Hanson, lawyer and Minnesota state legislator
  • Mary Kelly, conceptual artist
  • John A. Lovely, Minnesota Supreme Court justice
  • Paul Overgaard, businessman and Minnesota state legislator
  • Tim Penny, U.S. Representative (1983–1995), born in Albert Lea
  • Gene Peterson, former radio voice of the Houston Rockets
  • Mark Piepho, businessman and Minnesota state legislator
  • Marion Ross, actress (Happy Days); the town's civic theater in 2008 was renamed the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center
  • Perry Saturn, professional wrestler
  • Warren Stowell, teacher, businessman, and Minnesota state legislator

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