Nestled in a quiet grove of pines, just outside of Ely, Minnesota, are the cabins and museum of one of the north wood’s dearest and most colorful individuals, Dorothy Molter. Some remember her fondly as the “Root Beer Lady” while others recall her as the “Nightingale of the Wilderness” or, simply, Dorothy.
Dorothy carved out her legacy in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) located within the Quetico-Superior National Forest. Dorothy lived on the Isle of Pines on Knife Lake for more than 56 years where she paddled, hiked, fished, skied and snowshoed this pristine area, until her death in 1986. She was visited by as many as 7,000 people a year.
Dorothy Molter was the last non-indigenous resident of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). Her homestead was dismantled in 1987 and transported by dogsled and snowmobile to Moose Lake, and then on to Ely – where volunteers restored two of her cabins at the current site of the Dorothy Molter Museum.
The Dorothy Molter Museum preserves and interprets Northwoods wilderness heritage through learning opportunities inspired by Dorothy Molter and features tours of Dorothy’s Winter and Point Cabins as well as guided nature walks, a day camp for kids, and free public programs.
The museum also offers a visitor center with a gift shop selling Dorothy's Isle of Pines Root Beer and a community bird feeding station.