Albert Lea is a city in Freeborn County, in the southeastern part of the State of Minnesota. It is also 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. towns, Albert Lea's manufacturing base has substantially diminished. A longtime center of the city's job opportunity was the Wilson & Company meatpacking plant, later known as Farmstead and Farmland. This facility was destroyed by fire in July 2001.