According to one oral tradition, the area now known as Writing Rock State Historical Site was a mystical place. It was said that certain tribesmen could foretell the future by looking at the two large boulders there and watching the carved images change. In the early 1900s, settlers moved into
the area and the magic disappeared along with the natives’ way of life.

The smaller of Writing Rock’s two granite boulders was kept at the University of North Dakota for many years before finally being returned to the original site in 1965. Since then, visitors to western North Dakota have been able view these sacred rocks and the ancient images chiseled into them.

One reoccurring image found on the boulders is that of the thunderbird, a mythological creature said to be responsible for thunder and lightning in Plains Indian culture. While it is unknown exactly how old these images are, it is estimated that they date somewhere between 1000 and 1700 A.D.

Writing Rock State Historical Site is located just across the Montana/North Dakota border, approximately 46 miles from Plentywood.

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