The red and black Concord stagecoaches that crossed the West in the 1860s, known to the Indians as "fire boxes," have been celebrated in Mark Twain's fiction and John Ford's films. Predating the transcontinental railroads, they provided vital lines of communication to the East during the Civil War and opened to development the newly settled regions beyond the Missouri River. From 1862 to 1866 Ben Holladay owned and operated a network of stagecoach lines from Kansas to California, the main one following the central mail route between Atchison and Salt Lake City established by the U.S. government in 1848, and other lines branching into the mining country of California and Montana and Idaho territories. In spite of bad weather, primitive roads, holdups by highwaymen, and trouble with Indians, Holladay's coaches delivered passengers and mail on schedule. J. V. Frederick describes in fascinating detail the organization and operation of a vast transportation empire ruled by a man with executive genius and a gambler's instincts. Although Holladay forbade drinking and profanity on the job, he commanded the loyalty of his drivers, whom he dressed in broad-brimmed sombreros, corduroys trimmed with velvet, and high-heeled boots. He sold out just before the Union Pacific Railroad was completed and until his death in 1887 remained popular with Americans, who named racehorses and cigars after him.