In Jules Verne's 'Mysterious Island' he writes about how his castaways build a civilisation on a remote pacific island. One of the things they build is a telegraph from scratch. They also build paddle wheels, make guncotton, determine the latitude and longitude of their island, make a secure house out of a cave behind a waterfall, grow wheat from a single husk and a lot of other things. And as a bonus, it has the return of one of Verne's most famous characters (read it and find out who!).
This is one of my favourite books, I can definately recommend it to the whole slashdot crowd.