Mercury Marine’s announcement during the Miami International Boat Show that it would be reopening Lake X—its famed private testing facility in St. Cloud, Fla.—sent longtime performance-boat enthusiasts down memory lane and relative newcomers wondering about the possibilities. For now, at least, the Fond du Lac, Wis., marine engine and accessories companies will be using the Lake X site exclusively for product development, testing and special events.

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Currently out of service but scheduled to be brought back to life, the famed observation tower at Lake X is the facility’s most recognizable feature (click image to enlarge).

In Central Florida on business this weekend, I had the opportunity to tour the storied facility for the first time, which was hard for everyone involved—including me—to believe given my time as a marine journalist.

First impression? Weathered as it has become in the 60 years since it opened and in just the early stages of renovation, the Lake X facility felt as magical and mystical as I'd heard it was.

Plus, the place felt haunted. Sure, new personnel are on hand. But so are the ghosts of those who went before them. 

Lake X then. All photos courtesy/copyright Mercury Marine.

Of course, I took a few pictures while I was there. And as promised, Lee Gordon, Mercury Marine’s director of global public relations and communications sent me a few vintage images the Lake X heydays.

Lake X now. All photos courtesy/copyright speedonthewater.com

My guess? Those days are going to the return to Lake X with a vengeance.

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