MARYLAND

Containers of Gases Fall From Train

A container loaded with canisters of flammable gases broke loose from a flatbed rail car in upper Montgomery County yesterday, smashing through guardrails and a fence before sliding across the Barnesville MARC train station's parking lot.

No one was injured in the 8:15 a.m. accident, and hazardous materials experts from three agencies examined and declared safe the explosive wreckage of the 48-foot truck container before leaving the scene to CSX Corp. cleanup crews. The shipment of oxygen, liquified petroleum and methylacetylene gas canisters was destined for an Ace Hardware store.

Joe Peet, 31, of Silver Spring, said the container came to rest close to his truck. "I looked up, and there was this big square coming at me," Peet said. "It stopped 150 feet from me."

The train kept going until CSX dispatchers in Jacksonville heard of the accident and told the engineer to stop. The freight rail route, which is shared with MARC trains on weekdays, was shut down yesterday for about seven hours.

University Club Sued for Accessibility

A University of Maryland club has been sued by a part-time law school faculty member for not offering wheelchair access.

Andrew D. Levy, a lawyer who graduated from the Maryland law school in Baltimore, filed a suit last week after he was unable to gain access to the University Club, located in the Rossborough Inn on the College Park campus.

"They have air conditioning. They have a modern kitchen. They can't put in a ramp?" said Levy, who has limited use of his legs and uses a wheelchair.

The club's manager, Christopher Cantore, attributed the lack of accessibility to the historic building's age--it was built in 1789.

VIRGINIA

Presidential Yacht Has No Bidders

The Sequoia, the presidential yacht of eight chief executives from Herbert Hoover to Gerald Ford, is being sold on "Treasures in Your Home," a live collectibles show on PAX TV and the Internet.

The Sequoia hit the auction block Oct. 6. As of yesterday, the yacht's page on the Web site, www.treasuresinyourhome.com, had been viewed more than 5,500 times, but no one had yet met the minimum bid of $1.55 million.

"It's such a highly priced item," said Larry Ferber, executive producer of the TV auction show. "It's not like you sit there and go, 'Sure, I have a million-five, I'll open the bidding.' "

The yacht, 104 feet long and 18 feet wide, with a teak deck, was built as a private pleasure craft in 1925. Herbert Hoover used it for fishing, Franklin D. Roosevelt mixed martinis on it, John F. Kennedy celebrated his last birthday on board and Richard M. Nixon sweated out the final days of his presidency there.

In 1977, President Jimmy Carter had the yacht auctioned off to reduce the national debt. It fetched $286,000.

The boat now belongs to the Norfolk Shipbuilding and Drydock Corp., which has been trying to sell it for $2.5 million. If no one meets the $1.55 million minimum bid by Oct. 26, the yacht will be taken off the auction block.

These Boots Were Made for Selling

The Virginia Living Museum is auctioning off the footwear of the rich and famous today in a fund-raiser it's calling "Boots for Bucks."

The Newport News museum received autographed boots from country singers Jimmy Dean, Tim McGraw, Leon "Kix" Brooks and Ronnie Dunn, racing giant Richard Petty and musician Bruce Hornsby.

The auction will take place at White Hall Plantation in Gloucester County. Tickets to the Western-wear-only affair are $100 a head.

2 Young Children Left on School Buses

Two Virginia 4-year-olds were left alone on school buses in separate incidents in recent weeks. One of the children was found by police wandering around near an area in Newport News known for its drug trade. The other incident occurred in Hampton, when a boy was left on a school bus Thursday.

In both cases, the bus driver failed to check the bus before leaving it, a violation of procedure in both school systems.

The driver in the Hampton incident was fired, officials said. The Newport News bus driver is still working but no longer transports young children, said Frank Labrecque, director of transportation for the city's schools.

THE DISTRICT

Memorial to French Ambassador Marked

A granite bench memorial to Jean Jules Jusserand in Rock Creek Park installed in 1936 now has a sign that identifies him as the French ambassador to the United States for 23 years and hiking companion to President Theodore Roosevelt.

The National Park Service unveiled what it calls a wayside exhibit near the bench on the east side of Beach Drive just south of Tilden Street NW.

Jusserand founded the American Society of the French Legion of Honor to acknowledge the contributions Americans have made to France. He received the first Pulitzer Prize in history for his book "With Americans of Past and Present Days," recounting the key contributions of many French citizens to the United States, according to a Park Service spokesman.

Leaf Collection Begins Tomorrow

D.C. residents are encouraged to rake their leaves today in preparation for the Department of Public Works' new leaf-vacuuming procedure, which begins tomorrow.

The department has purchased new leaf collection machines that suck up leaves from tree box spaces. Residents in neighborhoods with alley trash collection may bag their leaves and put them where their trash normally is picked up.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"We've had the longest-running experiment in human history about whether rote memorization of math facts and skills works. And it doesn't. Students are coming to universities and into the workplace not understanding math. Why wouldn't I want to try something new?"

-- Glenda Lappan, president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.