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.
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.
The city hall is at 221 East Clark St, Albert Lea, MN 56007. Albert Lea is in Minnesota’s 1st congressional district, represented by Jim Hagedorn, a Republican from Blue Earth. Its Minnesota State Senate District is 27, represented by State Senator Gene Dornink, a Republican from Hayfield; it is in Minnesota’s House District 27A, represented in the Minnesota House of Representatives by Peggy Bennett, a Republican.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.42 square miles, of which 12.59 square miles is land and 1.83 square miles 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.
Albert Lea has a humid continental climate of the hot-summer subtype (Köppen Dfa). Albert Lea varies from 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 other, more northerly regions of the state. An exception to this rule is the urban core of Minneapolis – St. Paul, which sees higher temperatures typical of an urban heat island, but Albert Lea is significantly warmer than locations such as Duluth.
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.
Clare Hibbs Armstrong- brigadier general during World War II
Eddie Cochran- (composer of “Summertime Blues” and “Twenty Flight Rock”)
Alexander Grinager- an artist most noted for his murals, was born in Albert Lea
Mary Kelly– Conceptual artist
Marion Ross– Actress in (Happy Days); the town’s civic theater in 2008 was renamed the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center
Perry Saturn- Professional Wrestler Perry Saturn
Vinny Cerrato- Former Washington Redskins general manager
Gene Peterson– Former radio voice of the Houston Rockets
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
Tim Penny- U.S. Congressman (1983–1995), born in Albert Lea
Richard Carlson- a 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)
John A. Lovely- Minnesota Supreme Court justice