A traffic jam of Chicagoan proportions ensued. I planned previously to avoid the crowds, having had ample opportunity to mix and mingle on previous segments of the trip, and steered well around Rochelle to Franklin Grove, on the sunny side of the tracks.
The spectators trackside are representative of what we've observed everywhere Big Boy went.
Does it matter that most of the public thinks of steam locomotives and great passenger trains? No. (Big Boy was built to roll a hundred refrigerator cars at a mile a minute across the Wasatch Range and Sherman Hill. Smaller power, such as Challengers and 4-12-2s, took over east of Cheyenne.)
Does it matter that a big steam locomotive is impressive at speed? Yes. (What else in transportation is simultaneously as big and noisy and accessible? Would you really get this close to a taxiing B-29, for instance?)
We'll have more reflections on the public reaction anon. Now it's time to tend to some of the chores that I've neglected while the game was afoot.