• Newspaper
  • Community
  • History

    Though it was not the first newspaper ever published in Albert Lea, the Albert Lea Tribune was the first attempt at a daily publication in the city and the only daily newspaper to remain to this day. 

    Started in the afternoon of Oct. 15, 1897, the Tribune — then known as The Albert Lea Evening Tribune — printed its first edition in a converted office building.

    When it started, the newspaper sold for 12 cents a week, 50 cents a month and $6 a year. The papers were delivered to every home in town, and those who didn’t want the paper were asked to inform the Tribune. Otherwise, the people would receive it, and the newspaper carrier would be around on Saturday to collect the 12 cents for the week.

    There were two editions daily  — one at 2 p.m. for the early train and one at 4 p.m. for later trains and city subscribers. Papers were sent to 60 Minnesota and Iowa communities. Two months after the start of publication, the operation was expanded to include a separate semi-weekly. 

    The company has changed ownership multiple times since its creation and has been in three different buildings. The Tribune moved to its present building in 1961. 

    Boone Newspapers Inc. purchased the Albert Lea Tribune, along with the Austin Daily Herald and Fergus Falls Daily Journal, from Thompson Newspapers on Dec. 22, 1992. 

    It is one of 339 newspapers in Minnesota and one of 25 dailies. 


    4,500 daily. Monday through Friday with p.m. home delivery. Sunday with a.m. home deliver. Sunday TMC product with a.m. home delivery.


    The Tribune has won dozens of awards from the Minnesota Newspaper Association throughout the years, including first-place awards for investigative reporting, social-issues reporting, breaking news reporting, human interest reporting, editorial page as a whole, photography and general excellence. 

    In the last six years, it has won awards three times for the prestigious Lynn Smith Community Leadership Award from the Minnesota Newspaper Association. 

    Internet presence




    The city’s early growth was based upon agriculture, farming support services and manufacturing and 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. Like many U.S. towns much of the manufacturing base has diminished. A long-time center of the city’s job opportunity was the Wilson & Company meat packing plant, later known as Farmstead and Farmland. This facility was destroyed by fire in July 2001. The largest employer is currently Mayo Clinic Health System with over 1,500 employees.

    Today, Albert Lea has a development agency known as Albert Lea’s Economic Development Agency (ALEDA). ALEDA consists of two separate agencies. They are Greater Jobs inc.  and the Albert Lea Port Authority. Greater Jobs Inc. started as a pilot project of the National Chamber of Commerce in 1943 as a response to the economic problems, which might occur when the war ended. The Albert Lea Port Authority was established in 1987 and teamed up with Greater Jobs, Inc. to construct new spec buildings, which continue to draw new and relocating business and industry to Albert Lea and Freeborn County.

  • Geographic location

    Albert Lea is in and is the county seat of Freeborn County in the southeastern part of Minnesota, along the border with Iowa. The city is at the junction of Interstate 35 and 90, about 90 miles south of the Twin Cities.


    Albert Lea 18,356
    Freeborn County 31,255


    The city is named after Colonel Albert Miller Lea, who founded the city in 1890. During the American Civil War, Lea was an engineering officer in the Confederate States Army. Lea was a topographer with the United States Dragoons, who surveyed southern Minnesota and northern Iowa. Captain Nathan Boone, a son of Daniel Boone, was the scout for Lea’s unit.


    Albert Lea typically experiences significant contrasts between seasons. Winter typically lasts longer than others, ranging from November through March.  Summers are typically warmer than the rest of Minnesota, due to its southern position in the state.


    The area features a great public education system and 2 private grade schools. A new public high school was built in Albert Lea in the year 2000. In addition, Albert Lea is home to one of three campuses for Riverland Community College.


    Like many areas of Minnesota, people of Scandinavian and German descent have influenced Albert Lea’s culture.  Albert Lea received national attention as home to the Blue Zones Project™ pilot city in 2009. Albert Lea continues to embrace the culture developed. Albert Lea was ranked as No. 3 in a listing of Top 10 affordable small towns in the nation where people would actually want to live in October 2015 on Realtor.com.


    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: Black bullhead, carp, northern pike, and various panfish. Boating, fishing, canoeing, and boat tours are can be found on these lakes. Albert Lea also features Myre-Big Island State park. One of the more unique 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.

    Area Information

    City of Albert Lea: http://cityofalbertlea.org/

    Albert Lea CVB: http://albertleatourism.org/

    Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce http://www.albertlea.org/

    Albert Lea Area Schools: http://albertlea.k12.mn.us/

    Riverland Community College: http://www.riverland.edu/