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The Knotted Pine Inn and Tavern in Isabella looks much the same as it did in 1937--just a little larger. Dana Hull

Knotted Pine's 75th anniversary

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Dana and Scott Hull have only been there for eight years, but you'd think they were native to Isabella by the way they fit into the fabric of the community.

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They bought the Knotted Pine Inn and Tavern in 2004 and moved from Minneapolis to Isabella to operate their new business. Between them they've got a lot of life experience, but owning cabins and a bar was a novelty to them.

"It's a little different than we thought, but not much," Dana said.

Like many, snowmobiling brought the two to Knotted Pine. Isabella is often one of the only areas in the state with snow throughout the entire season. They stumbled across the inn while on a snowmobiling trip. When they found that the place was for sale, they went for it. The process took two years, but after signing the mortgage, they owned a home and new business and went to work.

Frank Terzzini opened the Knotted Pine Inn and Tavern in 1937 and the building is still the original, save some additions. The Hulls, however, have been steadily making improvements . Last Monday they upgraded from an analog to a flat screen TV.

"This is history in the making," Scott said with a smile as he plugged in the new television.

Isabella, 16 miles from Finland and 40 miles from Ely, is an oasis for snowmobilers with direct access to the Yukon and Tomahawk snowmobile trails. The Knotted Pine offers ten cabins with running water and heat--a luxury for snowmobilers, Dana said.

The place has changed hands a number of times since it opened, so the Hulls have had a hard time nailing down its complete history. Descendants of former owners have sent old pictures of the Knotted Pine and its former employees, but many of the images lack corresponding stories.

They do know the cabin closest to the tavern building once served as a polling place for the community. It's still a community meeting place-- they have a faithful crowd of regulars, Dana said. They've also welcomed guests from all over the world including some from Nigeria, Ukraine and Australia.

Isabella is definitely more isolated than the Hulls' former home in Minneapolis, but they say they love the area.

"People are just a little friendlier up here," Scott said. "We still congratulate each other every day that we're lucky enough to do this."

Touring around the country with punk rock bands gave the two the street smarts and patience to run a business that serves alcohol, Scott said.

"We're just the right kind of people for this," he added.

The Knotted Pine is celebrating its 75th anniversary on Saturday in true Minnesota fashion--with lots of food. Dickey Singleton will be barbecuing and they'll have raffles, drink specials and yard games. They open at noon.

"Come have a good time hanging out in Isabella," Dana said.

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