Sunday, March 7, 2010


Dorothy Molter lived for 56 years in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on Knife Lake. She made root beer and sold it to canoeists in the BWCAW, thus becoming the "root beer lady."

Dorothy first came to Knife Lake in 1930 when she was 23.  In 1934 she stayed full-time to assist Bill Berglund, who owned and operated the Isle of Pines Resort.  When Berglund died in 1948 Dorothy became the owner of the resort.  In the winter she would live in the winter cabin, and in the summer she moved into a tent-cabin on the summer island.  Dorothy was visited by thousands of people every year, obtaining over 4,000 signatures in her guest book in a single summer.  She had no utilities, used bottled propane for cooking, hand-cut ice from the lake to cool her root beer and lived 36 miles from the nearest town.

Due to the Wilderness Act, the Isle of Pines Resort was purchased by the United States government, and Dorothy was ordered to leave.  Petitions began to circulate and she became the last person allowed to live in the BWCAW until she died in 1986.

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