Tourism in Washington, before the automobile became the near-universal form of transportation, must have been very different from the way it is today.

Sixty years ago, with a road network that was primitive by current standards, most people got to Washington by train and got around the region by a remarkable network of public transportation that must have rivaled our latter-day Metro system for its coverage and efficiency.

These observations are spurred by browsing the Washington Standard Guide of 1924, unearthed in the family possessions of retired Marine Lt. Col. M.R. McClure of Annandale. McClure lent it to MetroScene.

It offers a glimpse of the Washington of that era, and the advertisements in the back of the book tell us how people got around once they arrived here. Some examples:

*"For Mount Vernon, home and tomb of Washington, via historic route. Fast electric trains. Midcity terminal, 12th Street and Pennsylvania Ave. NW site of the present Federal Triangle subway station . Round trip 80 cents. Chair car service De Luxe. Tickets allow stop-off in Historic Alexandria, Va. . . . Trains also to Arlington and Fort Myer, every 15 minutes. Washington-Virginia Railway."

*"The best way to see Arlington Cemetery is by the Arlington Sight-Seeing Busses which make close connections with all trains . . . Fare, 35 cents round trip . . . Arlington Transfer Co."

*"Mount Vernon 'on the Potomac' . . . the tourist route, Steamer Charles Macalester from Seventh Street Wharves . . . Fare: round trip, 85 cents.

*"The most interesting trip in the national capital's environs is that to Old Colonial Annapolis and U.S. Naval Academy . . . Trains leave Washington every hour, on the hour, and run direct to the Naval Academy Gate, Annapolis . . . Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis Electric Railroad, 12th and New York Ave. NW." (Its station, much remodeled, now serves as Washington's Greyhound bus terminal.)

*"Automobile tours (in seven-passenger Cadillac cars). Gettysburg battlefield, dinner furnished, $8.75 each. Delta Tours, Room 402 Kresge Building, 11th and G Streets."

*"The historic Great Falls of the Potomac. Most beautiful place near the national capital . . . 40 minutes from Washington. Double track electric railway. Trains every few minutes. Round trip -- adults 50 cents, children 40 cents. From Rosslyn terminal station, south end of new Key Bridge. "Rosslyn" cars of the Capital Traction Co. from downtown make direct connection. Washington and Old Dominion Railway."

All in all, it sounds like fun -- expecially for train, boat and car buffs.