The Root Beer Lady
Dorothy Molter was known as the Root Beer Lady because she sold her special bottled Root Beer to canoeists passing by her Isle of Pines on Knife Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. She operated a small fishing resort there when motors were still allowed within the BWCAW. She was the last person allowed to live in the wilderness and lived there until her death in December of 1986.
Dorothy lived an interesting life on Knife Lake, one many people would envy. You can learn more about her by ordering and reading the book written by Bob Cary, The Root Beer Lady. If you are ever in Ely, Minnesota then you can visit her museum and see two of Dorothy’s cabins from the Isle of Pines. And if you are really lucky then you can paddle out to the Isle of Pines and imagine what it would have been like to be Dorothy, all alone in the wilderness.
From the Cook County News Herald 20 Years Ago December 29, 1986
The unwelcome news came December 19 that Dorothy Molter, the last resident of the BWCAW, had died. She passed away in her cabin on remote Knife Lake along the international border near Ely.
Referred to as "The Loneliest Woman in America" by a newspaper story a couple years ago, Dorothy lived at her wilderness outpost under the reservation and volunteer employee agreement with the Forest Service. Her property was purchased by the U.S. government in the late 1950’s.
Dorothy, who was believed to be about 80 years old, took issue with the headline, agreeing that she was often alone, but never lonely.