city, seat of Freeborn county, southern Minnesota, U.S. It lies about 90 miles (145 km) south of Minneapolis, just north of the Iowa state line. The city is situated on Fountain and Albert Lea lakes in an agricultural area. Settled in 1855 and named for the U.S. Army lieutenant who had surveyed the region in 1835, it became the county seat in 1859 as the result of a race won by a local horse over one backed by the neighbouring town of Itasca (which no longer exists). Many of its citizens are of Scandinavian descent. At the crossroads of a highway and rail complex, it developed as a wholesale distribution centre for the surrounding farming region and later as a diversified industrial centre with large meatpacking plants. It remains a wholesaling centre with a prominent food-processing (especially meat) industry, and manufactures include store fixtures and machinery. Area agriculture is primarily corn (maize), soybeans, potatoes, and hogs. A community college campus is in the city. Myre-Big Island State Park is just east. Inc. 1878. Pop. (1990) 18,310; (2000) 18,356.
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