August 6, 1906, the City of Oacoma celebrated the railroad bridging the Missouri. Gone were the mountain men, fur traders, Indian Agency and steamboats. In Frieburg, Germany, a young German army officer debated his future . . .South Africa or America. Albert Mueller chose America. In 1919, Mueller opened their grocery store in the then bustling cattle town of Oacoma. The 20th century had arrived, and so had Albert and Dena’s young son.

After serving in Europe during World War II, their son, Alfred, joined Albert and Dena in the family business. In the early 1950’s, when new highway 16 was proposed, Alfred and Veda Mueller moved the family business to its present site. It was a small grocery store with a ten stool lunch counter. There, Veda baked apple pies and fried hamburgers that shoppers and traveling public enjoyed with their coffee . . .

Business prospered and eventually the store was enlarged, adding clothing and other items that were in demand by the
many travelers on their way to the Black Hills. The lunch counter grew from ten stools into a full scale restaurant where customers enjoyed not only sandwiches and pie but steaks and prime rib.

Over the years, the business has continued to grow and has been enlarged several times. The 10,000 square foot restaurant, bar and warehouse was completed in May of 1989. Al’s Oasis restaurant now serves approximately 350,000 orders per year, 50,000 pieces of pie and beef from over 1,000 cattle. Although Highway 16 gave way to Interstate 90, travelers have continued to stop at Al’s Oasis, where the coffee is still 5¢. In 2003 a 17,000 square foot supermarket, gift shop & clothing expansion was completed.

Today, the historic tradition continues. Make Wita Ocokata in the Lakota language means “center of the world”. Through this center the Lakota people believe the “life vein” known as the Minneshoshe, or Missouri River, flows through it freely. The Minneshoshe will always remain a proud guardian of this tradition.

The great “Minneshoshe” flows before you. Its waters are the gateway to the diversity and beauty of the West. Those “mystic people,” the Sioux, first inhabited this land. The history, arts, legends and motifs of the Great Northern Plains Native American Indian cultures survive, in large measure, due to the determination of the Sioux Nation.

The flow of this “life vein”, the Missouri, carries not only the soul of the Sioux Nation, it remains a largely undisturbed
source of life-giving sustenance. It was first explored by French fur trappers and later became a pathway of United States military occupation. Lewis and Clark first visited this area in 1804 and again in 1806, camping approximately two miles west of this location at the mouth of “Plum Creek” (American Crow Creek). The mouth of the White River, the site markers of the Upper Missouri, lies just beyond the river’s bend to the southwest of the Oasis. The original site of the Lower Brule Sioux Indian Agency is located just west of the mouth of American Crow Creek.

Five (5) miles upriver are the historic sites of Fort Kiawa and Fort Look Out. Captured in the prose of Frederic Manfred, the story of Hugh Glass comes to life in the classic, “Lord Grizzly.” Left to die after a savage grizzly bear attack, this mountain man escaped unarmed through the hostile world of an untamed western South Dakota to Fort Kiawa. Directly across the river is “Burning Brule,” so named because of its soil’s tendency to burn when exposed to air and water. Here in October of 1868, Captain Grant Marsh wintered his boat and crew. Captain Marsh had challenged the life threatening ice of the free flowing Missouri to deliver winter supplies to Fort Benton. The Missouri trapped Captain Marsh and his crew in ice just across from this site. Later, Captain Grant Marsh became a legend of Reno’s Battalion, and reported to the world the Sioux victory at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

With each ripple, the Minneshoshe continues to flow. Today, though tethered by great earth and concrete dams (Big Bend Dam is approximately 20 miles north), the free will of the Missouri remains the “life vein” to all people of the Dakotas.