https://www.inc.com/magazine/19970615/1416.html - farmers' barbed wire fencing pulling double-duty as telephone wire in the 1920s. Frontier ingenuity at its finest. Makes me think of that Warren Ellis quote from Crécy:
"These things may look primitive to you, but you have to remember that we're not stupid. We have the same intelligence as you, we simply don't have the same cumulative knowledge you do. So we apply our intelligence to what we have."
I think this might be my current 2017 obsession: old means to new ends in the old days, technologically speaking: Ken Macleod's "... the crystal radio that receives and the spark gap that transmits", African talking drum networks, Vikings using cliff-face acoustics for public speaking, the Antikythera mechanism and so on.
One can easily imagine a scifi genre that transcends mere Steampunk and uses ALL the technological improvisations of history in a single milieu to craft something not entirely unlike the modern world.