Atmore was founded in Escambia County, two miles from Florida state line in southern Alabama along Highway 31. Prior to the arrival of white settlers, the area was populated with Creek Indians.
Following the Civil War in the 1860s, the Mobile & Great Northern Railroad extended its line south to the Tensaw River near Mobile. The first building on the site of present day Atmore was a small shed constructed along the railroad at which supplies were left for William Larkin Williams, who had a logging operation ten miles down in Florida. Just a supply stop along the railroad, it was simply called Williams Station in 1866.
A railroad station, a store containing the post office, and one dwelling were built in the 1870s. William Marshall Carney started the first sawmill in late 1870, sparking the growth of the community. Local lore holds that he hitched a mule to a boat and set claim to most of the area. Carney is often known as "the father of Atmore," because of his many contributions to the community.
Williams Station had enough inhabitants to have its own polling place by 1885 and votes were first cast in a county election. Eventually, it was decided that the name Williams Station was not suitable for a flourishing municipality of two hotels and a few stores, so it was changed to Atmore in 1897, in honor of C.P. Atmore, the general ticket agent on the Louisville Nashville Railroad that then extended to Mobile.
Atmore's most famous resident is Evander Holyfield. Born in Atmore in 1962, his family moved to Atlanta when he was very young. Holyfield went on to become the Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World.