So what does yesterday's story about three Californians successfully blocking the merger of the Interior Department's Bureau of Reclamation into the Army Corps of Engineers have to do with the name of a short street in the fashionable Washington suburb of Chevy Chase?

Glad you asked.

Newlands Street, which juts off the east side of Connecticut Avenue a mile or so north of the District line, was named for a longtime member of Congress, Francis G. Newlands (D-Nev.), representative 1893-1903, senator 1903-1917).

A graduate of what became George Washington University law school and a Comstock Lode silver millionaire, Newlands sponsored the Newlands Act, which created what became the Bureau of Reclamation. The Newlands Project around Yerington, Nev., east of Reno, reputedly was the first of the bureau's projects back in the Theodore Roosevelt era.

For Washingtonians, Newlands also should be remembered for his foresight in buying 1,750 acres between Rock Creek and Kensington, building a trolley line out Connecticut Avenue and selling off lots that the streetcars made accessible in pre-automotive days. The name of his company was the Chevy Chase Land Co., which exists today.

Newlands himself owned a Tudor-style mansion on Chevy Chase Circle. It later bore the name of its later owners, the Corby family, who owned what has evolved into the Wonder Bakery on Georgia Avenue.