The letters came first. Terse, often vaguely worded requests for Denise Dennis' "mineral rights" piled up in her mailbox as far back as 2004. Energy companies wanted access to the shale gas under her 153-acre farm in northeastern Pennsylvania. Entrepreneurial middlemen sought to buy the rights and flip them over to gas explorers at a profit. Similar pitches played out across Pennsylvania's gas-rich Marcellus Shale in the mid-2000s, presaging a boom in production that would upend the domestic gas market and make millionaires out of many rural landowners. But Dennis is no typical landowner, and her farm is no average property.