A Shenandoah Valley Wet Prairie
Cool Spring Marsh is the most prominent natural feature at CraftWorks. It is part of a complex of floodplain marshes that exist along Bullskin Run. The marsh comprises about 8.7 acres and forms a variable-width border for about
one-third mile along Bullskin Run as it passes through this property
The marsh vegetation forms on wet sediments of this floodplain, which is comprised of marl—clay mixed with calcium carbonate. The soils of marl marshes are derived from the associated weathered limestone bedrock, and consequently these soils have a chalky consistency with a high alkalinity (high pH).
Marl marshes are relatively uncommon features of landscapes of West
Virginia, and often support regionally rare species that are adapted for
these special soil and hydrologic
conditions. Many species of
plants listed as "rare" by the West Virginia Natural Heritage Program
occur within those various wetlands.
Limestone formations are filled with minute spaces or holes through which liquids or air can pass. Surface waters that infiltrate to groundwater tend to be acidic, and once reaching the bedrock, they dissolve passageways through it. The porous nature of the bedrock allows much water to be stored within it. Over long periods, caverns, underground rivers, and abundant surface springs may form, and sinkholes are evident on the surface of collapsing cavities below. Abundant surface springs reflect the conditions at Cool Spring Farm.
In addition to the streamside marshes, the farm contains an abandoned orchard, fencerows, early successional herbaceous fields, wildlife food plots, and managed lawn in the vicinity of the main historic farmhouse and outbuildings.