Pride of the Huskies: The Story of Albany
Albany, Minnesota is a town with a population of 2,780 located approximately 25 miles west of St. Cloud on Interstate 94. The settlement of Albany wasn't always called that. Originally a settlement just 2 miles east of Albany was called Two Rivers. When the railroad came through the settlement moved where Albany is currently located. John Decker from the Stearns History Museum indicates the railroad required water towers approximately 7 miles apart so the locations of Albany, Avon, St. Joe, Freeport and Melrose all fell in line.
Albany became an incorporated city in 1890. Interstate 94 and Minnesota highways 52 and 238 go through the community. Before Interstate 94 existed the highway through the community was where Railroad Avenue now is. Many of the residents of Albany are of German heritage and are Catholic.
To help tell the story of Albany I was joined by longtime residents Tom Kasner and Joe Wedel. Kasner is the current Mayor and has lived in the community since 1987. He says Albany is the most generous and caring community. Kasner explains the community always works together to get things done which includes civic, public and private organizations. Joe Wedel is a former fire chief, current Planning Commission member and former business owner of Wedel Electric. He says his competitors in the electric business in Albany would often help each other out and he had a key to his competitors businesses in case he needed something they had and they had a key to his business just in case. Wedel feels this is a unique thing that many communities just wouldn't do.
Wedel lived his whole life in Albany aside from his time in the service. He remembers delivering papers and going downtown to the local drugstore to use the fountain machine. The town has grown over the years and that includes industry.
Albany has a golf course, numerous restaurants, including both local and chain, a hotel, grocery store, liquor store, clinic, car dealership, post office, and churches. Mayor Kasner says their industrial park located south of Interstate 94 continues to grow. Wells Concrete, who employs around 200 people, chose to relocate to Albany. They had locations in both Wells, Minnesota and Fargo. Kasner expects businesses to continue to grow in that location and throughout the city.
The Lake Wobegon Trail was something that was started by the Albany Jaycees in 1989 according to Kasner. He says many doubted that this trail would make sense and that they could raise the money. Kasner is proud that the organization was able to do this with many fundraisers and presented the check to the Stearns County board to get this project going 6 months after the financial request was made by the county.
Albany High School has a reputation for lots of sports success over the years. This includes a boys basketball state championship in 2023. Other state titles include football in 1987 and 1989, girls basketball in 1980, 1983, 2008 and 2021, Adapted Bowling in 2018, baseball in 1970, boys golf in 1976 and girls golf in 1979 and 1980.
Thank you to Joe Wedel, Joe Kasner, John Decker, the Stearns History Museum and Albany Activities Director Scott Buntje for their assistance on this story. If you'd like to listen to my conversations with Tom Kasner and Joe Wedel they are available below.