When most American railroads were built, nobody ever thought of filing an Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS.

If they had, few rail lines might have been built along waterways or through mountains.

Now, farfetched as it may seem but highly desirable as it is under today's more enlightened circumstances, an EIS must be prepared and considered before the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad -- part of the Chessie System -- is permitted to abandon its Georgetown branch.

Never mind for the moment that, for all practical purposes, the 11-mile line, which starts near Silver Spring and approaches Georgetown alongside the C&O Canal, hasn't heard a train whistle for a year.

Coal, its mainstay in recent years, now gets to a government power plant by truck.

The Interstate Commerce Commission, which must act upon the B&O application, has found that the abandonment "may affect significantly access to and enjoyment of recreational areas and parklands, including the historically important C&O Canal National Historical Park, the recovery and/or preservation of scores of historical and archaeological resources listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, limited wildlife habitat, and perhaps other aspects of the quality of the human environment."

Want to comment?

Write the ICC Section of Energy and Environment, Room 3115, ICC, 1200 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20423 -- Docket AB-19, Sub 112, or telephone 275-7316.

The so-called robber barons who owned the 19th century railroads might not understand all this, but those who want to maintain the C&O Canal environs appreciate it.

Baffled by Bid Requests

Bid requests from government agencies can be baffling.

Take, for instance, the D.C. Department of Administrative Services' recent call for proposals from those interested in providing, among other items, "Hot burning meal after school program" and "Inline monster muffin."

Don't ask me; ask them.

Protected From Acid Rain

We who live in and around Washington hear a lot about, but probably don't worry a lot about, acid rain.

So my colleague Margaret Engel was intrigued on seeing the sign outside the Auto Salon, a paint and detail shop at Arlington Road and Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda.

"Is your car protected from acid rain?" asked the sign, with a telephone number following.

Intrigued, Metro Scene checked, and manager Bill Salter said that, yes, acid rain does sometimes fall in the Washington area, marking cars with splotches.

What's offered to combat it, he said, is a coating of teflon and acrylic that costs between $65 and $85, depending upon the size of one's car, and lasts from six months to a year if cared for properly (and that includes avoidance of automatic car washes).