At Buffalo one morning last week the Coast Guard's broad-beamed icebreaker Mackinaw began smashing its way across the icebound harbor. A helicopter rose from its deck and flew ahead to hunt crevices and soft spots, radio back the line of least resistance. In a few hours the Mackinaw-helicopter team—the first used on the Great Lakes—had cleared a channel out into Lake Erie. A dozen ore carriers snaked along the narrow channel and followed the icebreaker down to Cleveland, thus opening navigation on the lower Great Lakes.

For Buffalo, it was the earliest port...

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