The last weekend in June I took a road trip with the family to the north of Minnesota. Our final destination was Ely and top on the list of things to see there was the Dorothy Molter, aka The Root Beer Lady, museum. Dorothy lived out in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on the Isle of Pines where she ran a resort. They used to have pop flown in by float plane but after that was banned she started using the empty bottles to make root beer for her guests. Eventually the area was designated by the federal government as wilderness, but Dorothy was allowed to keep living there, where she still made thousands of bottles of root beer every year for the canoeists that would visit. After her death, her cabins were relocated to the museum site.
I’ve written about her root beer before, and while it’s not by any means my favorite, I must acknowledge anyone who devotes so much of their lives to making root beer in the wilderness that they earn the title The Root Beer Lady. The museum itself is quite nice. The interpretive center and gift shop opens to a trail with her cabins and artifacts. Mostly focused on her life, but also the history of the Boundary Waters area. They also have a lot of her original root beer making equipment. The Dorothy Isle of Pines Root Beer is said to be as close a recreation of her root beer as possible.
The gift shop has not only bottles of her branded root beer, but also many other root beer candies and products, many of which I’d never seen (look for future posts). The whole place is wonderful, informative, and very much root beer themed, making it a site to which any true root beer fan should make pilgrimage.