Twenty years ago, a massive dredging effort to deepen 103 miles of the mighty Columbia River held the promise of securing Oregon's connection to the rest of the world.

At 43 feet, the channel — otherwise too shallow to compete with deep-water ports — could play host to today's larger vessels and more efficiently send Northwest wheat and steel to markets around the globe.

But with the Columbia River Channel Improvement project drawing to a close by the end of this year, the environmental and economic promises of the now $178.4 million project could fall short of the taxpayer investment, especially in an economy that's resulted in an unprecedented decline in international trade, a review by The Oregonian found.

It was impossible for me to read this passage without thinking of the famous passage from Antigone:

Many wonders there be, but none more wondrous than man. He sails the sea, plows the earth, traps birds and beasts, tames animals, builds shelter, cures plague; but a cure for death is beyond his cunning.
To better understand the meaning of "wondrous" in this context, let's turn to the end of a sentence in a book that never fails to reward a rereading, Grahame's The Wind in the Willows:
...the river they knew and trusted in all its moods, that never made them afraid with amazement.
The meaning of "wondrous" in Antigone is one with the meaning of the last word, "amazement," in that sentence.