HCLL presents ‘the Root Beer Lady’

The encore presentation can be viewed during March and April on Facebook and Youtube.

Dorothy Molter

The Headwaters Center for Lifelong learning continues its spring series with “Dorothy Molter: The Root Beer Lady.”

Jess Edberg, executive director of the Dorothy Molter museum in Ely, tells the story of the last non-indigenous resident of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, including how her cabin was relocated to Ely.

Born in 1907 in Pennsylvania, Molter first came to fish at Knife Lake with her father in 1930. Her summer visits continued until 1934, when she came to live full-time at Isle of Pines Resort.

After the BWCA was established, motorized transportation was eliminated and she became the only full-time resident in a wilderness area of 1 million acres.

Tens of thousands of canoeists visited her home, where Molter sold them root beer. She died Dec. 18, 1986 at age 79.


The program was originally presented in 2018 at the Park Theatre, when it drew a large audience and excellent reviews. It may be accessed via the HCLL Facebook page at or on YouTube at

All eight spring programs will be available to view during March and April. The HCLL plans to resume live programs as soon as it is safe to do so, with a goal of fall 2021.

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