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The city of Albert Lea is the county seat of Freeborn County in southeastern Minnesota. It is situated at the junction of Interstate Highway 35 and Interstate Highway 90, about ninety miles south of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The city rests on the shores of several lakes, including Fountain Lake, Pickerel Lake, Albert Lea Lake, Goose Lake, School Lake, and Lake Chapeau. Myre-Big Island State Park is nearby. Surrounding towns and communities include Armstrong, Bancroft, and Hayward. Other nearby communities are Baroda, Clarks Grove, Conger, Freeborn, Glenville, Gordonsville, Hollandale, Kiester, Lerdal, Manchester, Mansfield, Moscow, Myrtle, Oakland, Twin Lakes, and Walters. Mankato, Minnesota is just under sixty miles northwest, and Faribault is less than fifty miles to the north. Albert Lea is named for Albert Miller Lea, a topographer who surveyed the townsite in 1856. Its first settler is believed to have been Lorenzo Merry, who build a cabin on what is now the corner of Washington and Water streets in 1855. The town was chartered in 1878. The area’s early economy was based on agriculture, farm support services, and manufacturing, as well as on its railroad services, although its manufacturing sector has diminished considerably today. Notable natives of Albert Lea include the musician Eddie Cochran, who was born there, as well as Al Franken and Marion Ross, who lived for a portion of their lives in Albert Lea.

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