A process for preparing a pillared layered lattice clay, comprising the steps of preparing a hydrolyzed solution of chromium ion by reacting a solution of a salt of the said metal with a base at temperatures above 60. degree. C. , aging the solution at or above the said temperatures to develop the hydrolyzed pillaring agent, and contacting an aqueous slurry of a smectite, vermiculite, or flurohectorite with the hydrolyzed solution, and recovering the intercalated pillared clay product. The resultant products have unit cells containing from 1. 2 to 4. 2 chromium ions per cell, and have a repeating spacing of from about 18 to 28 Angstroms. The products are uniquely active catalysts for numerous applications, e. g. , in the petrochemical industry.