History of Albany

The City of Albany was incorporated in 1890, but not without a struggle.  The first petition to incorporate, signed by 33 male residents of the proposed area of incorporation, was presented to the Stearns county Board of Commissioners on November 30, 1888.  The County Board issued a notice calling for an election on the issue at the District 59 schoolhouse the following January.

The Great Northern and Soo Line Railroads once bounded the city, but have since been removed and the right of way now is utilized for pedestrian (hiking/biking) travel.  One of the lines running from Avon through Albany to Sauk Centre is now a paved bike, hike, and snowmobile trail called The Lake Wobegon® Trail.  The water plant was installed in 1902 and electricity in 1909.  Beautiful Pine and Pelican Lakes are about 1 1/2 and 4 miles northeast of Albany.  People wonder why commercial development on Railroad Avenue (Mainstreet) was almost confined to one side of the street, as you can see when viewing the listed photos below.  That was no accident.  The railroad designed it that way, the objective always being to receive revenue from people who used the rails.  The land within the 300 foot railroad right of way was not for sale, only for lease.   Businesses allowed to lease the land from the railroad were those who shipped by rail - livestock, grain, general merchandise, farm implements, automobiles, and so on.  Retail merchants and service business hesitated to build on the railroad right of way with only a 30 day lease, so they built on the north side of Mainstreet.  The City celebrated it's 100th year centennial in 1990!

Want to learn more of the history of Albany?

"Albany - The Heart of Minnesota" (A Centennial Book and VHS Video) by the Albany Heritage Society

 The books and videos are available for purchase at City Hall or by contacting:

John Kloos: 651-260-6077, jmkloos@yahoo.com  


The Albany Heritage Society was founded in 1986.  The Heritage Society works to accumulate and preserve articles and photographs relating to the origins and the development of the City of Albany and the surrounding area.  It compiles a record of interviews, newspaper articles and other items relating to the history of Albany. 

On the right are pictures of the many displays and files compiled by the Albany Heritage Society located in City Hall at 400 Railroad Ave. for public viewing.

For more information, contact:
John Kloos, President



Attached Document or FileRailroad Ave. 1953 East end looking west
Attached Document or FileRailroad Ave. 1953 Looking east
Attached Document or FileRailroad Ave. 1957 Looking west