Atoka, Tennessee

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Atoka, Tennessee
Town of Atoka Sign, Atoka, Tennessee.JPG
Location of Atoka in Tipton County, Tennessee.
Location of Atoka in Tipton County, Tennessee.
Coordinates: 35°25′29″N 89°46′58″W / 35.42472°N 89.78278°W / 35.42472; -89.78278
Country United States
State Tennessee
 • MayorW. Daryl Walker
 • Total12.13 sq mi (31.40 km2)
 • Land12.09 sq mi (31.31 km2)
 • Water0.04 sq mi (0.10 km2)
433 ft (132 m)
 • Total8,387
 • Estimate 
 • Density787.37/sq mi (304.00/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)901
FIPS code47-02340[4]
GNIS feature ID1275973[5]

Atoka (/əˈtkə/) is a local government area with a town charter in Tipton County, Tennessee, United States.[6] In 1888, Atoka was a stop on the Newport News & Mississippi Valley Railroad. Today the City of New Orleans Amtrak passenger train makes its daily route between New Orleans and Chicago, through Atoka.

Historians and genealogists can trace the Town of Atoka's origins back to the 1838 charter of Portersville. Atoka adopted Portersville's charter as its own. World War I Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Joseph B. Adkison lived in Atoka, and he is buried nearby.

Five public parks exist within the town limits. The population was 8,387 at the 2010 census, making the Town of Atoka the second largest municipality in Tipton County. The town has grown significantly since the 1990 census, at which time the population was only 659.[7] Covington, the county seat, has the largest population.



From the fiftieth anniversary of the Covington Leader, 1886 to 1936:

The trading center for the Atoka area before the rise of the town was Portersville...
With the coming of the railroad in 1872 and opening of stores in Atoka, there grew up an intense rivalry between the two towns, but Atoka's advantage of the railroad proved to be too much, and Portersville gradually died out. Today not a store or store building remains in Portersville and it passes into history...[8]

A peek into the life of John McLaughlin, a citizen of both towns, gives us some idea of what Portersville and Atoka were like:

Our subject received a collegiate education at Bellenyna College, Ireland and in 1852 came to America, landing at Charleston, S. C.; then immediately went to Chester, S. C., and spent three years learning the carriage-maker's trade, when he moved to Aberdeen, Miss., and established a factory of his own, and three years later moved to Portersville, Tipton County, and continued the business five years, then went into merchandising and farming, selling goods at Portersville two years, then moved to Atoka and continued the mercantile business over ten years, and since that time has given his attention exclusively to farming and running a steam cotton-gin, which he owns.[9]

Atoka and Portersville in Tennessee, U.S.A.[edit]

June 1, 1796 - The Southwest Territory was admitted as the 16th state, Tennessee.

1911 - Atoka was reincorporated.


If the dates are taken into account, "the coming of the railroad in 1872" and "the name of Portersville changed to Atoka in 1875". These two locations, Portersville and Atoka, existed simultaneously. The railroad came to Atoka first. Then the town of Atoka was incorporated. Atoka was an unincorporated location long before it was a chartered town.

United States Postal Service, Rural Free Delivery in Atoka[edit]

The official stance of the United States Postal Service, according to an article published by the Historian of the United States Postal Service in April 2008, is that Atoka was the first post office with rural free delivery in Tennessee starting on January 11, 1897.[10] But according to an article in Tipton County's local newspaper, published in 1936:


The first rural route established in the South and the third established in the United States was set up at Atoka in 1895.
At that time the United States Post Office Department was experimenting with rural routes. They established one in the North, one in the East, and one in the South at Atoka...
The first route, which was Atoka Route 1, was 16½ miles long...

Route 1 was later combined with route 2, which covers the territory from Atoka to the Mississippi River.

Another article from 1936 describes more about the post office:

Atoka's first postmaster was D. Bowden. With the development of the United States' splendid rural delivery system in her postoffice department, the Atoka postoffice grew in importance. Today there are two rural routes reaching out from the town, serving that section from the Mississippi river on the west to Salem on the east. All mail for Munford, Drummonds, Richardson's Landing, Randolph and other communities passes through the postoffice at Atoka, whose postmaster is E. M. Quisenberry and whose rural carriers are J. E. McQuiston and R. S. McDill.[8]

Town charter[edit]

Acts of the State of Tennessee Passed at the General Assembly, 1883[11]

From 1883: Portersville Charter - 1838 -- Atoka Charter - 1875

Private Acts of the State of Tennessee Passed by the General Assembly, 1911[12]

June 24, 1911 - Atoka reincorporated

1911 Charter with amendments from 2006, 1977, 1973, and 1969[13]

August 17, 2012 - AN ACT to amend Chapter 373, of the Private Acts of 1911[14]

Current Charter Information - Town of Atoka, Tennessee[15]

Current zip code data for Atoka, Tennessee is 38004[edit]

The zip code for Atoka, Tennessee, is 38004. The current area of the Atoka 38004 is shown in the Zip Code Data Maps.

Parks, greenway, and recreational facilities in Town of Atoka[edit]

Atoka has five city parks: Adkison Park, Atoka Greenway Trail, Nancy Lane Park, Pioneer Park, and Walker Park. Each park has its own history and distinctive recreational facilities.

Adkison Park[edit]

Atoka's first park, Adkison Park, was established as a project for the Tennessee Homecoming '86[16] celebration. It is just over an acre in size. It has a 1/8th mile asphalt lighted walking track, a playground feature shaped like a train, picnic tables, benches, and a memorial plaza area. The memorial plaza area is a memorial area dedicated to the memory of Seargent Joseph B. Adkison. The Bobby McDill Scout Hut, home base of Boy Scouts of America Troop 60 of Atoka, is located within Adkison Park.[17]

Atoka Greenway Trail[edit]

The Atoka Greenway Trail is a planned connection between Walker Park and Pioneer Park. "On June 25, 2013, Governor Bill Haslam announced that Atoka had received a $400,000 Transportation Alternatives grant to fund Phase I of the Atoka Greenway Trail project."[18]

Nancy Lane Park[edit]

Nancy Lane Park is nearly 42 acres in size. It is named in honor of long-time Atoka resident, Alderman, and dedicated park supporter Nancy Lane. It has a full size caboose, a wooded nature trail, a large playground, pavilions, picnic tables, an 18-hole disc golf course, a 4 diamond softball complex with a concession stand, and restrooms. Nancy Lane Park is the home of the Atoka Dixie Youth Softball[19] program and served as host for the 2014 Dixie Youth Softball World Series.

Pioneer Park[edit]

Pioneer Park is more than 6.5 acres. It has a 1/3 mile lighted walking track, a playground, picnic tables, and a fishing pond with a fountain. "A nearly 2 acre pond with fountain feature is the central focus of the park, with the walking trail ringing the pond."[20]

Walker Park[edit]

Walker Park is more than 60 acres. It is named in honor of long-time Mayor Charles Walker. It has restrooms, a 1.15 mile walking track, a playground, pavilions, picnic tables, concession stand, splash pad, lighted athletic field, and sand volleyball courts.[21]

Legal planning area of Town of Atoka[edit]

In the unincorporated area to the East of the city limits, the Planning Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals, and code enforcement office of the Town of Atoka has a certain amount planning permission control over the planning area.

Transportation routes[edit]


The Canadian National Railway is the current railroad company that owns the rails going through Atoka. This railroad runs from New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A., to Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A., and into Canada. The City of New Orleans, an Amtrak passenger train, still makes one trip to Illinois and another trip back to New Orleans each day, through Atoka. The previous railway owner was Illinois Central Railroad.[22] To visitors, the railroad in Atoka may seem inactive, but the rail system is busy with regular traffic in 2019.


U.S. Route 51 passes through the western edge of the Town of Atoka, from Shelby County to the south and the town of Brighton to the north. The City of Munford meets the Town of Atoka city limits to the west and in the center of Highway 51. Highway 51 is the route south to Millington, the downtown area of Memphis. and north through Covington, Ripley, and Dyersburg.Randolph

Tennessee State Route 14 or Highway 14 or Austin Peay Highway is west of Atoka. Highway 14 goes south into the Raleigh area where Methodist North is located. It runs north to help drivers get to Brownsville.

South of Millington, or about a twenty-minute drive, is Tennessee State Route 385. Many of the areas in Shelby County can be reached from 385.

Mississippi River[edit]

Although Atoka is only about 19 minutes away from the Mississippi River at Randolph, the closest bridge that allows a car to travel to Arkansas is almost 40 minutes away - the Hernando de Soto Bridge in Memphis. The next closest bridge is located in Dyersburg.


The town of Atoka is located at 35°25′29″N 89°46′58″W / 35.42472°N 89.78278°W / 35.42472; -89.78278 (35.424740, -89.782652).[23] According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2010[24] the municipality had a total area of 12.36 square miles (32.0 km2). The total area of land was 12.33 square miles (31.9 km2) and the total of water was .03 square miles (0.078 km2).

Atoka, Tennessee within Tipton County
Atoka, Tennessee within Tipton County

Atoka, Tennessee is located in Tipton County, Tennessee. The County south of Tipton County is Shelby County where the city of Memphis, Tennessee is located. Tipton County is located in the Tennessee Grand Division of West Tennessee. The map of the United States gives a view of where Tennessee is located within the contiguous United States.

Map of West Tennessee counties
Map of West Tennessee counties
Location of Tennessee within contiguous United States
Location of Tennessee within contiguous United States

The Mississippi River defines the western border of the state of Tennessee. The Tennessee counties that have the Mississippi River as their western boundary are Shelby, Tipton, Lauderdale, Dyer, and Lake Counties. Atoka is located just east of the Mississippi River.


Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)9,517[3]13.5%

As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 3,235 people, 1,075 households, and 935 families residing in the town. The population density was 485.0 people per square mile (187.3/km2). There were 1,145 housing units at an average density of 171.7 per square mile (66.3/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 87.88% White, 9.30% African American, 0.25% Native American, 0.53% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.31% from other races, and 1.67% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.10% of the population.

There were 1,075 households, out of which 49.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 75.6% were married couples living together, 7.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 13.0% were non-families. 11.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 2.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.01 and the average family size was 3.24.

In the town, the population was spread out, with 31.9% under the age of 18, 6.8% from 18 to 24, 35.8% from 25 to 44, 19.8% from 45 to 64, and 5.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 102.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.1 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $58,583, and the median income for a family was $61,643. Males had a median income of $38,721 versus $24,487 for females. The per capita income for the town was $19,644. About 3.0% of families and 4.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.1% of those under age 18 and 3.7% of those age 65 or over.


Atoka Public Schools are part of Tipton County Schools. The Tipton County School District has eight elementary schools, five middle schools and four high schools.[27] Atoka Elementary School, opened in 2008,[28] is located in Atoka. Younger students in the Atoka area may attend any of various public schools.[29] Dr. John Combs is the Director of Schools.[30]


  1. ^ Municipal Technical Advisory Service. "City Information". University of Tennessee Institute for Public Service. Retrieved June 24, 2013.
  2. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  6. ^ "State Tax Sharing, Fairness, and Local Government Finance in Tennessee" (PDF). Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. January 2004. Retrieved July 4, 2013.
  7. ^ "Our Community: Census Data". Town of Atoka. Retrieved July 1, 2013.
  8. ^ a b c "Fiftieth Anniversary". The Covington Leader. October 15, 1936.
  9. ^ Goodspeed's History of Tennessee. 1887.
  10. ^ United States Postal Service Historian. "Tennessee: Dates that First Rural Routes Were Established at Post Offices, through 1904" (PDF). United States Postal Service. Retrieved June 28, 2013.
  11. ^ Acts of the State of Tennessee Passed at the General Assembly. Albeet B. Tavel Printer to the State. 1883. pp. 71–72 – via Google Books.
  12. ^ Private Acts of the State of Tennessee Passed by the General Assembly. McQuiddy Print. Company. 1911. p. 991 – via Google Books.
  13. ^ "Charter for the Town of Atoka Tennessee" (PDF). Chapter 373 House Bill No. 647. State of Tennessee. June 24, 1911. Retrieved July 1, 2013.
  14. ^ "AN Act to amend Chapter 373, of the Private Acts of 1911" (PDF). Town of Atoka, Tennessee. August 17, 2012. Retrieved July 1, 2013.
  15. ^ "CHARTER FOR THE TOWN OF ATOKA, TENNESSEE" (PDF). Town of Atoka, Tennessee. August 17, 2012. Retrieved November 9, 2019.
  16. ^ "Homecoming '86 | Entries | Tennessee Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2015-11-08.
  17. ^ "Adkison Park - Atoka TN". Retrieved 2015-11-08.
  18. ^ "Atoka Greenway Trail - Atoka TN". Retrieved 2015-11-08.
  19. ^ "Dixie Youth Softball - Atoka TN". Retrieved 2015-11-08.
  20. ^ "Pioneer Park - Atoka TN". Retrieved 2015-11-08.
  21. ^ "Walker Park - Atoka TN". Retrieved 2015-11-08.
  22. ^ "Brief History of the Illinois Central". Illinois Central Historical Society. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  23. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  24. ^ "Geography: Tennessee". United States Census Bureau. 2010. Retrieved July 5, 2013.
  25. ^ "Census of Population and Housing: Decennial Censuses". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  26. ^ "Incorporated Places and Minor Civil Divisions Datasets: Subcounty Resident Population Estimates, April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Population Estimates. United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on June 11, 2013. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
  27. ^ "Tipton County School District". GreatSchools. Retrieved June 22, 2012.
  28. ^ "History of Atoka Elementary School". SDE Directory. Retrieved November 10, 2019.
  29. ^ "Tipton County Schools - Schools". Tipton County Schools. Retrieved November 10, 2019.
  30. ^ "Tipton County Schools - Contact Information". Tipton County Schools. Retrieved November 10, 2019.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°25′29″N 89°46′58″W / 35.42474°N 89.782652°W / 35.42474; -89.782652