Natural Features & Ecosystems
A beaver dam on the Appomattox River, located upstream from the Sweeney Mill site.
Appomattox Court House NHP lies with the Piedmont Province of central Virginia east of the Appalachian Mountains. Within the park are gently rolling hills and valleys with elevations ranging between 640 and 830 feet above sea level. Over eight miles of streams, including the headwaters of Appomattox River lie within the boundaries of the park. These streams ultimately drain into the Chesapeake Bay.
Wetlands are lands where water saturation is the dominant factor determining the soil development and the types of plants and animals living there. Most of the wetlands in the park are located in floodplains along the Appomattox River and Plain Run Branch. Beavers will occasionally dam streams in the park to form temporary complexes of ponds and channels, which are classified as a different type of wetland. Other wetland types found in the park include seeps and upland depression swamps. Although once more common across the landscape, many upland wetlands were historically drained to increase the amount of land that could be farmed. A unique feature in the park, the Tibbs vernal pool is a large, isolated, upland depression wetland that has been both drained and restored at some point in the past.
A vernal pool fills with water during cooler months and dries out as temperatures rise. The photo on the left was taken in March, when the water level is highest. By mid-summer, the standing water is gone (right).